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After budget impasse, Healthy Families program returning to Metropolitan Family Services North Center

After budget impasse, Healthy Families program returning to Metropolitan Family Services North Center
Child well-being initiative now serving new parents in five north side communities

Chicago, Ill. – Metropolitan Family Services North Center is now enrolling first-time prenatal mothers to participate in its newly re-established Healthy Families program, which provides direct service and trauma-informed support to families in order to promote child well-being from birth to age five.

Healthy Families provides wraparound services designed for parents facing challenges such as single parenthood; low income; childhood history of abuse and other adverse child experiences; and current or previous issues related to substance abuse, mental health issues, and/or domestic violence. Laying off five positions and a supervisor, suspending services in June of 2015, impacted 60 families in six community areas.

“We made a difficult decision,” says Vanessa Schwartz, the Metropolitan Family Services Center Director overseeing the program.

For example, one mother with cognitive delays and mental health issues entered the program for support in caring for her son, born with a heart defect requiring multiple surgeries and a feeding tube. She was living with and relying on her elderly grandmother; her Healthy Families home visitor worked with her to become more independent, engage with her baby, and cope with her own postpartum depression.

To re-launch the program, more than a year later, was not as easy as the staff anticipated. The biggest challenge Metropolitan Family Services North Center faces, that of establishing consistent referrals through community partnerships, substantially affects recruitment. While the program serves specialized participants, its services provide holistic support to create as stable a living environment as possible for families, from socialization and group workshops to referrals for mental health, housing issues, and more.

Healthy Families services:

  • Free and voluntary
  • Begin with prenatal moms or before the baby turns two weeks old, and last until the baby reaches 5 years of age
  • Include a combination of home visiting, routine screenings and assessments for child development, socialization and educational events
  • Metropolitan Family Services North Center serves the Belmont-Cragin, Irving Park, Hermosa, Portage Park, and Jefferson Park neighborhoods

About Metropolitan Family Services North Center

Since 1982, Metropolitan Family Services North Center has been helping families navigate life’s obstacles while growing and changing with the communities it serves on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Metropolitan North is part of Metropolitan Family Services, which has been empowering Chicago-area families to reach their greatest potential and positively impact their communities since 1857. Learn more at: www.metrofamily.org

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