- Bentley, Rhea M.
The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. The home visiting program serves English speaking and Hispanic families in the community. These families, like many other families experienced an unforeseen world-wide crisis.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, home visitors were no longer able to visit families on a weekly basis in their homes to offer support to the families. The platform quickly changed from in-person to virtual/phone visits. Families adapted to the change in platforms understanding the importance of remaining safe and cautious during the pandemic.
During this pandemic, family participated virtually or by phone in their regular home visitation session. Packets were delivered without contact by Program Managers or were mailed to all enrolled families. Monthly family meetings were replaced by virtual “Family Portraits” where parents could share pictures of their interactive activities learned during virtual home visit sessions on the UGA Extension Facebook page. Healthy Families Columbus focused on the benefits of encouraging parents to teach children about who belongs in their family, their relationships and giving insight into creating feelings of belonging. Staff provided tips on summer safety amid pandemic and continuous support normalizing fears and anxiety while coping through COVID-19 pandemic.
Screening and enrolling new families has been somewhat challenging during COVID-19; however, existing families have remained in connection with the program. Parents as Teachers enrolled 12 new families during the during COVID-19 restrictions. The Home visiting team successfully completed 758 visits since the start of teleworking in March and completed 228 developmental screenings using a virtual platform. Most families served, adopted a family first approach above anything else. They are able to cater to their family’s needs most importantly outside of all the stressors of the pandemic and society. Most families stated they enjoy being able to talk to someone other than those in their household due to isolation. The home visits have impacted the families by giving them the support to release anxiety because there has been a disconnect with other programs and services in the community. Participating families have said: "We were happy that we would still see you each month, share stories, and play games. I would still have someone to ask questions about what's going on." “My [home visitor]has helped me understand my child and his development which has decreased my anxiety to allow me to be a better parent.” “[My home visitor] has helped me with the strong emotions that have arisen from not only parenting, but also as a person and the situations that have (and still) come up in life”.
Youth & Family Development
- Year: 2020
- Geographic Scope: County
- County: Muscogee
- Location: College Station, Athens
- Family and Consumer Sciences