Healthy Families - Dalton
Program Manager: Caroline Pence
Program: Healthy Families serves at-risk parents in Whitfield and Murray Counties. Based on the Healthy Families America (HFA) evidence-based model, program services seek to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as other poor child-related outcomes, through the provision of voluntary, evidence-based home visitation services. Program services create nurturing family environments and improve family functioning by increasing parental knowledge of child development, appropriate parenting practices, and community resources.
Mission Statement: Healthy Families seeks to promote child well-being and prevent the abuse and neglect of children through the provision of quality, long-term, intensive home visitation services.
Objective: Healthy Families is a component of the Georgia Home Visiting Program, a continuum of supports and services available to expectant parents and parents of children ages 0-5 in Whitfield and Murray Counties. Families are screened by First Steps to determine family strengths and needs. Families that could benefit from on-going support are offered home visitation services through Healthy Families or Parents as Teachers. Healthy Families home visitation services are provided to families prenatally through the child’s fourth birthday.
Program Funding: The program currently receives funding from the Department of Public Health, Department of Human Resources, Safe and Stable Families Program, Mohawk Foundation, the Alan S. Lorberbaum Family Foundation, Roman Open, United Way of Northwest Georgia, and private donations.
Objectives/Goals/Measures: The Healthy Families America model has four primary goals:
- Build and sustain community partnerships to systematically engage overburdened families in home visiting services prenatally or at birth;
- Cultivate and strengthen nurturing parent-child relationships
- Promote healthy childhood growth and development; and
- Enhance family functioning by reducing risk and building protective factors.
Outcomes related to program services can be observed at the child, family, and community levels.
Child-related outcomes include but are not limited to:
- Improved birth outcomes;
- Increased utilization of well-baby care;
- Increased physical and cognitive gains;
- Increased positive learning behaviors impacting school readiness and adjustment; and
- Improved social functioning.
Family-related outcomes include but are not limited to:
- Increased subsequent pregnancy intervals,
- Parental educational gains;
- Reduced levels of parenting stress;
- Increased knowledge of child developmental milestones and needs; and
- 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.
2018 program service statistics reflected that:
- 125 families received home visitation services.
- 2,437 home visits were completed with the average length of a visit being 60 minutes.
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. 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. Quarterly 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 quarterly 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 89 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 the Georgia Home Visiting Program – 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.
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.