Healthy Families Program Offers New Parents Source of Comfort, Hope
In rural Crawford, Washington and Harrison Counties, single parents and poverty rank especially high. With 2,547 single parents in the tri-county area in 2016 and 6,812 food stamp recipients in 2017, the area also is known for its continuing drug epidemic.
Just ask Crystal Hess, a single mother who struggled with drug addiction for many years.
With the help of Healthy Families, though, Hess has become a nurturing mother, wife, homeowner and restaurant manager. The state-funded program, offered by Blue River Services, Inc. in Harrison, Washington and Crawford Counties, offers new and expectant parents free, voluntary and confidential assistance. Hess successfully graduated from the program in January 2018.
A Family Support Specialist, who helps parents like Hess cope with stress, identify needs and build on strengths, can even help families with parenting skills and developing goals. The ongoing services also include screening for post-partum depression, a grave condition affecting Hess, along with 600,000 other women in the United States annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control. With referrals to community resources and doctors, and developmental in-home assessments, Hess and her son also began receiving services through First Steps after Healthy Families staff identified a developmental delay. Her son received in-home speech and language therapy through First Steps, and at 3-years-old, he is now eligible to participate in an Exceptional Learners program at North Harrison Elementary.