Building a Healthy Start is our follow through program for new mothers and fathers through the first five months after the birth of their child. Becoming a parent is an intense, emotional experience that is incredibly exciting and joyful but that can also be challenging. It can be very frightening to face the responsibility of caring for such a precious and dependent baby, and most parents worry about their ability to raise a happy and healthy child. For healthy development, children need someone who is in love with them. They need someone who will take the time to understand who they are as individuals, and who will respond in sensitive and nurturing ways to their unique needs. This program discusses the everyday moments – the simple encounters between parents, other caregivers and children – how these moments provide essential nourishment for a child’s emotional, social, intellectual, and physical growth. Parents are encouraged to relax and understand that their children don’t need them to be perfect. Children need parents who love them and who are committed to learning about their child’s individual needs and about the best ways to support their healthy growth.
As we meet with the clients bi-weekly, there is a different focus – understanding a child’s temperament, building strong relationships, and nurturing healthy development; nutrition; child safety from day one; choosing quality child care; building a child’s literacy skills; teaching that discipline and teaching limits is a gift parents give to their children; and a focus on the importance of fathering – even before birth and connecting right from the start. Clients agree to complete homework assignments that provide us assurance they are learning and growing as a parent.
When the client completes Building a Healthy Start, she is given a new highchair. The volunteer mentor is instructed and trained to review the client’s homework and discuss it with her. As in our other parenting programs, all of the gifts and services our clients receive are provided free of charge.
This program is focused on the parents and their interaction with their baby from birth to toddler stage. If the client needs additional help, we refer to other agencies that may assist with the needs.
Sav-A-Life of Dale County currently reaches clients in Dale, Pike, Barbour, Coffee and Henry Counties. Our pregnancy test center, Dale County Pregnancy Center, served 796 needs in 2010.