Health Start at NATIVE HEALTH is a home visiting program funded by a grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The program works to support pregnant mothers and families with children from zero to two. It addresses health, environmental, and stress factors that impact birth outcomes and the healthy development of infants and children. Goals for the program include preventing low birth weight infants, increasing care for high-risk pregnant women, ensuring that enrolled children are immunized and have a medical home, and providing health education to pregnant/postpartum women and their families on topics ranging from prenatal care, parenting, breastfeeding, and preconception/inter-conception, to childcare and safety. The program also provides screening for early developmental delays and makes the appropriate referrals if needed.
Once enrolled, the family is assigned a Community Health Worker (CHW) who works closely with them to understand their needs and to help them access available community resources. Each CHW lives in the community and reflects the ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic characteristics of the communities they serve. For pregnant women who enroll in the program, the CHW connects the mother to prenatal care (if not already established) and provides support, advocacy, and on-going education about fetal development and health behaviors that affect birth outcomes. Mothers are screened for post-partum depression and receive information regarding inter-conception health. After a baby is born, and for those that enroll with a child under two years old, the services focus on educating parents about child development, immunizations, and home and car safety. The CHW will screen the child(ren) on a periodic basis using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire to identify potential developmental delays and refer the family to an appropriate provider if needed. For the duration of a family’s enrollment in the program, services will be tailored to the family’s needs, adjusted as necessary to reflect inevitable life changes. For example, if a family experiences homelessness, the CHW will provide housing resources; if food scarcity is a concern, the CHW will provide agencies that can help with food donations; if a parent is looking for a job, there are services that can help make their job search easier. The CHWs acquire new skills and knowledge through training every year to ensure they are providing the most accurate and relevant information for their families.
The program also offers an array of classes for families. Along with the ongoing education and skill building, the CHWs have certifications in car seat safety, safe sleep practices, infant massage, and breastfeeding. All classes are offered as an additional way to help support families and are chosen because of their relevance to those enrolled. Some of the classes offer car seats and pack-n-plays as well as other incentives if needed. Many families also have a need for necessities such as food, clothing, hygiene, diapers, and breastfeeding supplies, and while referrals are offered to help obtain these, the program also works to provide what it can to the family directly.
NATIVE HEALTH’s Health Start Program is dedicated to supporting happy, healthy families and supports the work of various medical professionals and healthcare providers by helping to remove barriers to care. The CHWs are uniquely positioned for this as they work with families in the home and can provide resources, education, and support that foster resiliency and self-sufficiency.
The Health Start Program at NATIVE HEALTH works to respond to the community’s needs and is continuously adapting to feedback and information provided to us by all of the families enrolled. Confidential surveys are provided to get feedback and suggestions from the families about what things they like to see more or topics/information they feel would be most beneficial to the needs of their family. The hope is that all families will enroll in programs such as Health Start to help support the growth of their family.
NATIVE HEALTH is a private, nonprofit agency providing primary medical, dental, behavioral health, WIC and wellness services to all individuals in Maricopa County. Additional supportive programs such as the Arizona Department of Economic Security (AHCCCS, SNAP, TANF enrollment assistance; Division of Child Support Services and Arizona@Work (employment) is also available. Food distribution and medical-legal partnerships are available for patients/clients. For more information call (602) 279-5262 or check the website at www.nativehealthphoenix.org.