Community Action Inc. of the Central Texas Early Years Home Visiting Program welcomes new and former clients.
The Early Years Home Visiting Program connects families with knowledgeable and friendly parent educators who share information on developmental parenting, parent-child interaction, and family well-being. The program normally includes home visits, group contacts, child development screenings and links to community resources. It gives parents the knowledge and resources to prepare their children for a better start in life and greater academic success.
“It’s a great opportunity to be in touch with resources,” said Nina Ramos, Senior Educator of Community Action. “It is continuous parental and family support, adapted to each family. Each family is paired with a parent educator who takes the time with each family to find the best way to serve them. Some families need a lot of resources and others are more interested in the development of the child.
In these uncertain times, the Hays and Caldwell Counties Early Years Home Visiting Programs have been steadfast in their response, providing enrolled families with essential resources such as diapers and wipes, packets of water and gift cards from HEB and Lowe’s.
The pandemic and winter storm have resulted in changes in routines, increased stress and isolation, and increased screen time that can impact children’s development and behavior, putting them at higher risk of delays.
These supports are essential at this time of increasing stress on parents and children and the need for resources.
“We have so many resources and so much time to serve the community,” Ramos said. “We would like families to be able to access it. “
Despite an increased need, the Early Years Home Visiting Program lost families when its programs went online.
“Before the pandemic, our home visits, we would come once or twice a month with an activity that we took with us to do with the family,” Ramos said. “The goal was for the parent to take the lead on this. Each activity focused on child development, celebrating milestones for children. We recognize the work they do and the child does.
But since the start of the pandemic, they have been following COVID-19 protocols and although they drop off goods like diapers and gift cards, they have had to suspend home visits, replacing the virtual engagements that many families had a hard time keeping up.
“It was really tough for some of our families, it wasn’t what they signed up for,” Ramos said. “It’s hard to connect with families and kids on the zoom, especially if they’ve been on the zoom all day. “
Although the program has been around for over five years and has historically been close to full capacity, at present it only serves 80 families out of 160.
In Caldwell County, the program is closer to 20% capacity.
Their staff are very well trained not only in child development, but also in how best to serve families and involve families. They provide developmental screens, giving feedback to parents to make sure children are reaching milestones, which is especially important in the first five years.
The completely free program is available to all families with children or infants under the age of five.
Ramos hopes to return to visit families in person as soon as it is safe, and continues to work with families following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the meantime.
Those interested in additional support and knowledge about child development are encouraged to contact Coordinator Megan Campbell for registration information at [email protected] or (512) 665-5631.
Newly registered families will receive a box of diapers and wipes upon registration and their choice of a box of diapers or car seat after eight visits with their parent educator.
The Early Years Home Visiting Program is nationally recognized as a Blue Ribbon Affiliate by the Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc. (PATNC), distinguishing the program as one of the most popular home visiting affiliates. more efficient within the international network of the PATNC.
Since 2015, Community Action Inc’s Parents as Teachers affiliate has supported the parenting and school readiness goals of families in Hays County with funding from the Prevention and Early Intervention Division of the Department of Family Services. and protection. In 2020, with a grant from St. David’s Foundation, they were able to expand this program to Caldwell County.
You can learn more about the Head Start programs and all Community Action, Inc. of Central Texas programs at www.communityaction.com.