OGDEN — At-risk moms and young children in Weber County now have access to a new Home Visiting program designed to help with health, parenting and education resources as well as emotional support.
The program, funded by a $1.2 million gift from Utah residents Scott and Kari Spendlove, is a partnership between Intermountain Healthcare, Prevent Child Abuse Utah and the United Way of Northern Utah.
The goal of the program is to help with parenting and family health, said Dr. Neal Davis, medical director of pediatric community-based care for Intermountain Healthcare.
Davis said a mother and child’s well-being can be impacted by factors outside of their control, including poverty, food or housing security. These stressors can put children and adults at risk for developing chronic health problems including heart disease and cancer.
“Addressing these risk factors early on, and through evidence-based programs like the Home Visiting program, gives children more opportunities to thrive and promotes a healthier community,” Davis said. “This partnership is one way Intermountain Healthcare, with the help of philanthropy, is investing in a model health system for children and working to improve the overall health of children in the communities we serve.”
The program will be administered by Prevent Child Abuse of Utah, which will coordinate the various types of home visits for pregnant mothers, fathers and children up to the age of 5. Home visits are provided by nurses, paraprofessionals and trained volunteers during pregnancy or afterward.
All Weber County residents who are pregnant or have a child under 5 years old and think they could benefit from extra support can qualify for free in-home visits.
“This bolstered program will help simplify the referral process and create one front door to connect moms to be at the right time to the various programs, which provide in-home visits, support and resources to help moms and their babies thrive,” said Dr. Sean Esplin, senior medical director for women’s health at Intermountain Healthcare.
Laurieann Thorpe, director for Prevent Child Abuse Utah, said national data shows Utah ranks last in maternal mental health, with 46.1% of children under age 3 whose parent reports they are not coping very well.
“The parents we serve often say, ‘Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook, but home visiting is the handbook,’” Thorpe said. “The difference in-home visits can make for families is transformative. We help celebrate the skills parents intuitively have and help them make small changes over time. Parenting is hard, and Utah parents need to overcome the stigma about needing parenting help, and know that help is available, and it works.”
Kari Spendlove said the partnership program is an inspiring, powerful resource that will help parents and their baby and strengthen families, all of which benefit communities.
“We are very excited and grateful to be part of this initiative, supported by many organizations sharing the noble goal of giving children a great start in life,” she said.
Women interested in participating in the program can talk to their doctor or midwife about a referral or call 801-393-3366. Women can also visit the Prevent Child Abuse Utah website, pcautah.org, preferably before they’re 29 weeks pregnant if possible, to see what services are available during pregnancy or after their child’s birth.
People who are interested in becoming trained as volunteers with Welcome Baby to visit with new mothers and their babies monthly and deliver age-appropriate learning kits for babies and children can contact United Way of Northern Utah at 801-399-5584. Volunteers with Spanish fluency are needed.