Kate and her two month-old daughter
received seventeen home visits since enrolling with the program. Recently, the infant had been hospitalized for breathing difficulties, and ever since mom described feeling mounting anxiety and depression. Mom also expressed feelings of guilt around the hospitalization and her lack of family support. Kate and her home visitor had recently discussed her recognition of postpartum depression. Kate called her home visitor and said, “something is wrong, she’s not breathing right.” The home visitor knew Kate was panicking and didn’t know what to do. The baby had not stopped breathing, but something out of the ordinary was occurring and mom was concerned.
With her home visitor’s help, Kate took her infant to the hospital and the home visitor met her there. In the emergency department, the baby stopped breathing, but was quickly stabilized. The home visitor stayed with the mom to offer encouragement for trusting her instincts and taking action. Kate later shared with her home visitor that she had called a family member who suggested that she was overreacting. “I knew to call you because you would believe me,” she said. Happily, baby did not have to be hospitalized very long and is home making a full recovery.
I am reminded all over again of the significant impact every ECS home visitor has on the families they serve by taking the time to really listen and simply believing the best of them. Since this incident, baby has been placed on an apnea monitor. Recently, a CCHMC medical resident shadowed a home visit with this family and was able to provide individualized and helpful follow up to mom. As part of their training, CCHMC residents shadow at least one ECS family to better understand the unique issues and barriers a high-risk population has to receiving medical care.
Amber was referred when she was 8 weeks pregnant. She has a history of significant emotional and sexual childhood abuse resulting in mental illness. Despite being homeless for the majority of her pregnancy, Amber found ways to keep regularly scheduled home visits with her home visitor Laura. She met with her home visitor at the library, at friends’ and family’s houses, or in her hotel room. She attended childbirth education classes and participated in an incentive program to help gather the baby items she needed. She had a mental health evaluation in order to receive the medications she needed to stabilize her mental illness. On home visits, she eagerly asked Laura for more information about breastfeeding, infant care, healthy meal preparation, and reading to her baby. After six months of prenatal home visits, Amber gave birth to a healthy baby girl. While she continued to be homeless after her daughter’s birth, she managed to exclusively breastfeed for 6 weeks and find the support she needed to care for her new baby. She continued to complete weekly home visits at the homeless shelter or library. Amber, her daughter, the baby’s father, and Laura were able to participate in story time at the library. Amber and her now 2-month-old daughter recently moved in to their own apartment in Metropolitan Housing and have regular, positive interactions with the baby’s father. Laura helped Amber to get her own place to live, improve her communication to decrease her stress levels, and raise a healthy baby. ECS will continue to support Amber in establishing a safe and secure base for her daughter’s growth and development.
Tina enrolled with ECS as a single, pregnant teenager.
She had not received early prenatal care and was experiencing a difficult pregnancy. She was unable to meet basic needs and did not know how she would be able to care for her baby. Her home visitor, Sandra, helped her establish goals and coached her to success. She helped mom get to her prenatal appointments and connected her with resources so she would not be evicted from her apartment. Most important, Sandra offered Tina reassurance and emotional support.
After birth, Tina was overwhelmed with daily care issues. She turned to her home visitor who imparted tools and techniques to help baby reach his developmental milestones. Mom says, “If it wasn’t for Sandra, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown by now… It’s the best thing I could have done… I’d recommend it to everyone.”
Ronna entered the program when she was 15 years old and eight months pregnant. She did not have a place to live and had no family support. She met with her home visitor regularly, participating in goal setting and curriculum activities. Eventually she moved into her own apartment, which her church community is helping to support. With encouragement and support from her home visitor, she graduated from high school and enrolled in Cincinnati State. Her son graduated from the ECS program in December 2008 and started preschool with Cincinnati Public Schools in January.
Jennifer graduated from the ECS program and her son, Dillon, is now 8 years old. The other day at school, his teacher gave him a note to take home to his mother. The note reported that Dillon recently tested in the gifted range. When Jennifer explained the good news to Dillon, he said he planned to tell all his friends at school that it was because he was in the Every Child Succeeds program. Jennifer tells us that Dillon attributes all his successes to his participation in Every Child Succeeds. Jennifer completed her college education and became an ECS home visitor.
Being a home visitor is indeed a unique and rewarding job.
I say this as every day. The families I meet, many of who often face massive challenges just to survive, inspire me. And yet, they have energy left over to be warm and welcoming to new people brought into their lives. Kara, Tony, and their seven month-old daughter come to mind. Penny was born in August full-term and at a healthy birth weight, her parents proud and excited. However, the medical team discovered serious heart defects requiring Penny to undergo immediate open-heart surgery. Two additional heart surgeries would follow in the span of a few short months.
Thankfully, this little one is recovering beautifully. Kara and Tony continued to allow me to visit with them. They handled a difficult and frightening situation with strength, especially given they are only 19 years old themselves. It has been a privilege to see them navigate working with the CCHMC specialists, learn to administer various medications at home, and advocate for their daughter’s health and well-being, all with calm and confidence.
These parents are mature and responsible; they own a car and have their own apartment, Kara is a high school graduate who chose to breastfeed her daughter with the help of her home visitor. Tony succeeded in obtaining his GED and was recently promoted at work. Truly this family is an inspiration!
Liz enrolled in Every Child Succeeds
in January 2012 when her daughter, Lana, was only a few weeks old. She was very consistent and engaged with home visits throughout the first year. As home visits continued, it became clear that Lana was not meeting developmental milestones. Mom needed help understanding and accepting that Lana was behind in communication and gross motor development. She would require extra early intervention services.
Through continued encouragement from her home visitor, Liz began to realize the important role that she plays in her daughter’s development. On each visit with the family, the home visitor demonstrated activities that allowed Liz and Lana to work on language development together. Liz was committed to helping her daughter. In February 2014, Lana’s reevaluation for early intervention services indicated she is developing on target and no longer needs extra intervention! Liz showed tremendous growth as a mother. Liz only needed some extra encouragement and parenting education to help her daughter her full potential.
Nadia first learned of Every Child Succeeds at age 20
, when she was 9 months pregnant. The home visitation program provides services to at-risk, first-time moms to promote child development and a healthy, nurturing environment.
“My life before Every Child Succeeds was stressful, confusing and in the sense of being a new mom, I felt hopeless,” said Nadia.
The resources, home visits and activities provided by Every Child Succeeds gave her the selfconfidence and tools to teach her son what he knows today.
“My son Aidan was walking at 8 months. He was crawling at 5 months, talking at an early age and potty-trained at the age of one. He knows his colors, numbers and is very well developed on all of his assessments. I give Every Child Succeeds credit,” said Nadia, whose son is now 2. Nadia also thanked the generous United Way donors for being an inspiration. Because of the parenting skills she developed, she was able to make a difference in the life of a 3 year old, serving as a foster parent for six months.