Healthy Families - Dalton
Program Manager: Caroline Pence
Program: Healthy Families serves at-risk parents in Whitfield and Murray Counties. As the local affiliate of Healthy Families America, the program addresses the widespread need for the long-term parent support and education necessary to ensure that all children get off to a healthy start in life.
Objective: Healthy Families Dalton provides a continuum of voluntary, research-based services to all expectant parents and parents of newborns in Whitfield and Murray Counties. Based on an assessment of family strengths and needs, each family is offered short-time telephone support services through First Steps or long-term home visitation services through Healthy Families. Healthy Families home visitation services may be provided to families prenatally through the child’s fourth birthday
Mission Statement: Healthy Families seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect through the promotion of positive parenting and healthy childhood growth and development.
Program Funding: The program currently receives funding from the Department of Human Resources, Safe and Stable Families Program, Governor’s Office of Children and Families, Mohawk Foundation, and United Way of Northwest Georgia.
Objectives/Goals/Measures: Program services focus on the prevention of child maltreatment by enhancing family functioning and stability, promoting positive parent-child interaction, and ensuring appropriate childhood growth and development. Outcomes related to these goals include child, family, and community levels.
Child-related outcomes include but are not limited to:
- Reduction in infant mortality rates;
- Higher immunization rates;
- Increased utilization of well-baby care;
- Increased physical and cognitive gains;
- Enhanced social and emotional readiness to learn; and
- Improved social functioning.
Family-related outcomes include but are not limited to:
- Increased interval between subsequent pregnancies;
- Increased level of parent education and employment;
- Increased knowledge of child development;
- Increased knowledge of behavior management skills; and
- Improved ability to implement positive parenting practices.
Community-related outcomes include but are not limited to:
- Decreased rates of child abuse and neglect reports;
- Decreased number of children with undetected developmental delays entering the local school systems;
- Increased economic stability; and
- Increased collaboration between community service providers.
Specific outcomes regarding families served during this period included:
- 100% of mothers and children linked to a medical home;
- 90% of children with up-to-date immunizations;
- 100% of children with suspected developmental delays referred for early intervention services;
- 1 repeat teen pregnancy; and
- 0 substantiated CPS reports.
2013 program service statistics reflected that:
- 178 families received home visitation services;
- 2,907 home visits were completed with the average length of a visit being 60 minutes; and
- 1,068 referrals to community resources were made to link parents to the resources necessary to strengthen family functioning.
Quality Assurance Measures: Evaluation methods currently utilized to measure service and client-related outcomes include:
- Funding Reports: The program is required to submit monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual reports to program funders and the local Family Connection collaborative. Reports monitor the compliance with funding contracts, link program outcomes with community benchmarks of family well-being, and provide demographic information regarding individuals served. Program reports completed this year indicate that all services are being provided as required by grantors.
- Site Visitation: The University of Georgia Center for Family Research completes the program’s annual Healthy Families Georgia site visit consisting of staff interviews, documentation reviews, observation of home visits and staff supervision, and discussion with Advisory Committee members and program participants. The site visit ensures compliance with the Healthy Families America Critical Elements.
- University of Georgia Center for Family Research Formal Program Evaluation: The program is required to submit client data obtained through the administration of evaluation measures. Data is used to complete an annual evaluation of program services in relation to client-based outcomes including changes in child development, parental stress, and home environments. The results of these evaluation measures are used to determine the overall effectiveness of program interventions and enable program staff members to focus on particular areas of need specific to each family, and make appropriate referrals to further evaluation by appropriate professionals, when necessary.
- Internal Quality Management: Weekly supervision sessions with each staff member providing direct services are conducted by the Program Manager and/or the Clinical Supervisor. Monthly telephone surveys with clients, annual client satisfaction surveys, and exit surveys have proven to be effective means of monitoring program services and, at the same time, obtaining client input regarding those services. In addition, client file reviews are completed on a monthly basis to ensure appropriate documentation of services. Information gained through each of these measures confirm that home visits are, in fact, occurring in accordance with client level requirements and that appropriate child-related information is discussed on each home visit. The 85 clients participating in the most recent of the annual client satisfaction surveys distributed indicated that program services led to improvements in family support, problem-solving skills, understanding of child development and parenting, and overall happiness. Continued semi-annual “shadow” visits with program staff members have confirmed these findings and given opportunities to provide specific feedback regarding service delivery.
Collaboration: As one of two local home visitation programs offering services through Great Start Georgia – Dalton, the early childhood system of care created in late 2011 via Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation (MIECHV) funding awarded to Whitfield County, Healthy Families operates within a formalized referral and intake framework. This framework was established through a state-level partnership between the Governor’s Office for Children and Families and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Locally, this partnership is maintained through on-going collaboration between the Family Support Council and with the North Georgia Health District and serves as the entry point to services for all expectant parents and families with children ages 0-5. Together, the two entities created and manage a central intake process responsible for the solicitation and processing of referrals for all expectant parents and parents of children ages 0-5 in Whitfield and Murray Counties. Hamilton Medical Center and the local WIC programs serve as the primary referral sources for families enrolling in evidence-based home visiting services offered through Healthy Families. Additional MOUs have been created with community partners to create a network of community resources to which families may be linked with support for identified family needs. Community partners include Early Head Start, Endless Opportunities, Department of Family and Children Services, Family Crisis Center, Georgia Legal Services, local churches, and many others.