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Letter: Help strengthen DeKalb County families

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 10:06 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 8:34 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

This is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a good time to share some information about how Healthy Families Illinois (HFI) strengthens families in DeKalb County.  

Healthy Families Illinois is a long term, evidence-based home visiting program. The goals are to build and maintain partnerships that engage families in home visiting; promote and strengthen positive parent-child relationships; promote positive growth and development in children.

We serve expectant mothers and families with newborns. The program is designed for first-time parents, particularly those dealing with some type of life stressor. 

HFI works to identify the needs of families and assist them through intensive home visiting. Family support workers help families access community resources, plan for education and jobs, and decrease social isolation.

They also offer encouragement and emotional support. During home visits, support workers focus on supporting strong, healthy relationships between parents (including fathers) and children. They help parents read children’s cues and respond in nurturing ways.  

Family support workers help parents understand child development, including age-appropriate milestones. Using specific curriculum, they foster nurturing parent-child interactions and encourage brain development and stimulation through play. Finally, family support workers improve family health by linking families to patient-centered medical homes for parents and children.

When pregnant women enroll, support workers help connect them with prenatal care. They work to ensure children are up to date on immunizations and well-child visits, and help families create a safe home environment.  

The theme for National Child Abuse Prevention Month this year is “Making Meaningful Connections.”  Ways you can become involved:

• Be a friend to a parent you know. Ask how their children are doing. If a parent seems to be struggling, offer to baby-sit or run errands, or just lend a friendly ear. 

• Be a friend to a child you know. Remember their names, smile when you talk with them. 

• Talk to your neighbors about looking out for one another’s children.  

• Donate used clothing, furniture, or a toy for use by another family.

• Attend a workshop on child development, such as “Reacting to Bad Behaviors:  Methods for Promoting Positive Behavior for Parents.” This event is at 6 p.m. Thursday at the DeKalb County Community Outreach Building, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road, in DeKalb.  RSVP Kisha Dolfi at: kdolfi@childrenshomeandaid.org.

To participate in Healthy Families Illinois, refer an expectant mother or family with a newborn younger than two weeks old, or for other information, contact me at 815-899-0137.  

Kathy Hicks

Children’s Home + Aid 

Healthy Families Illinois 

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