For many new parents having a child is an anticipated life event. When the experience begins to unfold, the age-old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” becomes more resonant than ever.

The village is a needed support system that helps parents navigate the white-knuckled moments of “wingin’-it” through relentless bouts of crying, provides a sense of community to overcome those “baby blues”, and imbues important knowledge in caring for a new life.

What happens when there is no village to support a pregnancy that didn’t happen under ideal circumstances, and parents are ill-prepared, under-resourced, and overly stressed? Many times, parents find a way to persevere but sometimes, the overwhelming factors can lead to little ones becoming victims of child abuse.

The Healthy Families home visiting program, administered by the Verde Valley Medical Center, exists to be a village for new parents. By addressing the needs of overburdened families and relieving stress associated with having a newborn, Healthy Families is preventing the potential for abuse.

In 2018, more than 650 visits were made to families with histories of trauma, intimate partner violence, mental health issues, and substance abuse. The visits focused on providing parenting skills to reduce the risk of child maltreatment and neglect.

This is a shared success story as the Healthy Families village extends beyond the program team to you, our community. Through the financial support of federal and state grants, as well as the generosity of Northern Arizona Healthcare colleagues, we are supporting 90 new parents in creating nurturing homes for their children this year. Thank you for making this possible.

Investing in the Village

After childbirth, it’s common to ask how mom and baby are doing, but what about dad?

More recently, paternal peri-natal depression (PPND) is gaining recognition as a significant health problem. Affecting 1 in 4 new dads, PPND can trigger aggression, substance abuse, impulsiveness, chronic stress, and other symptoms that may lead to abuse or neglect of children.

Now, through a grant to Flagstaff Medical Center’s HealthySteps Child Abuse Prevention/Paternal Peri-Natal Depression Program, new parents will have access to education and materials—such as a support group for new dads—to reduce and manage PPND.