When Janassa met her Healthy Families Home Visitor, Sam, they connected right away, she said. Janessa was 20 years old and 7 months pregnant. They began home visits as soon as Janessa’s daughter, Ava, was born. Home visitors teach parents about proper baby care, promote nurturing and attachment, practice effective parenting skills, and ensure parents have a solid understanding of healthy child development.
“I felt very alone. At times when things were hard, Healthy Families made things easier. It was something I just really clicked with,” said Janessa.
Janessa was also drawn to the connection and conversation with other parents having similar experiences. “Parenting is hard and sometimes it’s hard to find friends with kids,” Janessa said. She found comfort in being part of a group with others who wanted to be the best parents for their kids and with whom she could talk about parenting. The playgroups and time together allow young parents to interact, socialize, share experiences, and ask questions without judgement. The home visitors were always available for questions and provided such wonderful information and advice, she said.
The Healthy Families program, a program of the Children’s Trust, helped Janessa better understand Ava and what children her age needed. The playgroups and social interaction were so important for Ava, she says. “Giving my daughter early socialization at such a young age mattered so much to her ability to share and communicate with other kids. They grew up around each other and got to interact with other children on a more intimate basis. They made friends and seeing how she is now, I think it made the biggest difference. As a mom, I’m proud to see that.”
Janessa and Ava recently graduated from the program when Ava turned 3, but it was hard to say goodbye.
“I loved being in the program. It was all really good experiences. There was never bad energy or negative emotions. It was always comforting and reassuring that I was doing the right thing for my daughter. It was a beautiful thing. After saying goodbye, I realized they really taught me so much in such a healthy way.”