Four Corners Health Department offering new Healthy Families program to benefit young children, county board hears details

YORK COUNTY – The Four Corners Health Department is offering a new program which will benefit young children and their families.

The York County Commissioners recently heard details about the program, when they met with Four Corners Director Laura McDougall and Healthy Families Director Catherine Seufferlein.

McDougall said the department learned the four counties in the Four Corners District (York, Seward, Polk and Butler) were prioritized for home visits through the Healthy Families Nebraska program which helps develop healthy patterns in families expecting babies up to when the babies are three months old.

While this program is intended to help avoid child abuse situations it also has other positive effects, as seen in other communities where it thrives: it creates positive parenting practices, prevents child maltreatment, improves children’s health and it helps with child development and school readiness. It also assists with maternal health and well-being, economic self-sufficiency and helps prevent family violence.

Seufferlein will be overseeing the program for Four Corners, in this area. She said the benefits being seen are “very data driven. There are 15 such programs in the state, with five of them being new like Four Corners’. The program is state funded through grant money.

“The goal is if we invest in these families now, we can invest less later” by avoiding consequences from poor child-rearing, reduced preparedness for school, family violence, etc.

“This is to make sure families in need won’t fall between the cracks,” she said further. “We have two parent coaches who will start meeting with families next week.”

“This program is completely voluntary,” McDougall said. “And it’s free to them. It’s not a mandated program, even if a family is working with the program due to a HHS referral. We are hoping to break generational cycles and help turn some things around for people in our communities.”

“How do you get clients?” asked Commissioner Stan Boehr.

“We want people to know it’s here and available,” McDougall said. “Our medical providers will know it’s available, we will be working with schools, DHHS, WIC, even churches. We want everyone to know it’s out there. It will be an ongoing process. We are working to get the word out. And we expect to increase the number of coaches of the course of the next few years.”

Referrals will be made, Healthy Families staff will make contact with families and families will decide if they want to participate.

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