In Fairfax County and nationwide, the Healthy Families program is changing lives. Cornerstones participates in Healthy Families, a voluntary, home-visiting program which has proven to be completely effective in promoting positive parent-child relationships and healthy attachment for parents facing challenges such as single parenthood; low income; childhood history of abuse and other adverse child experiences.
When “Anaya” was referred to the Healthy Families program, she was seven months pregnant, sad and overwhelmed.
Anaya had emigrated to the U.S. from Africa in the fall of 2014 and was living with family friends who she knew from her home country. Her husband remained in Africa for work. She had a difficult time finding employment on her own, and after some time, her relationship with her roommates became tense because of money issues.
Anaya confided to the Healthy Families Family Support Worker (FSW) assigned to her case that she was regularly physically disciplined by her parents, and that her former husband was also physically abusive. The FSW was respectful and sensitive to Anaya’s culture while encouraging her to be nurturing with her baby, helping her understand that such attachment is not “spoiling,” but is providing her baby a safe environment with healthy relationships and boundaries. The FSW also taught Anaya valuable developmental activities that she and her baby could do together, as well as sleep safety and why it’s important to keep the baby’s crib free from any other items.
Anaya set personal goals to find employment and childcare, which the FSW helped her break down into manageable steps. Within one month of working with her FSW, Anaya got her first job interview. She eventually accepted a job offer as a care provider for the elderly. Anaya enjoys her job and it shows — she received an award of recognition for working after hours during a snow storm when other staff called out. Anaya has also passed her driver’s license exam and with money she had saved and with some help from a friend, she bought a used car.
Anaya has made significant progress on her path toward self-sufficiency and good parenting. She is more confident and has become a positive and highly motivated mother. Her child is now more energetic, loves music and dancing, is engaged, and even initiates activities with his mother and her FSW during home visits.