Posts Tagged ‘family’

Home Visiting Program

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) is designed to support at-risk families during pregnancy and early childhood. Home visiting family support programs match parents with trained providers, such as nurses or parent educators. These providers then visit the family at home one to two times a month from the time a mother is pregnant through the first few years of the child’s life.

We all know that children do not come with instruction manuals so these home visits can be invaluable to vulnerable families that may not have access to outside support or lack experience or knowledge of basic parenting skills.  The providers help the families access the information and resources that can support the physical and emotional health of babies and entire families. During their time in the program, the parents receive support and information about how children grow and learn. They are taught about providing a safe and enriching environment for their children.

The program is federally funded and locally administered and has been shown to reduce health care costs, reduce need for remedial education, and increase family self-sufficiency.  Here is why, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts:

Reduced health care costs

• Mothers who participated in the Nurse-Family Partnership in Pennsylvania were 26 percent more likely to quit smoking while pregnant.

• A home visiting program in North Carolina, Durham Connects, has been shown to pay for itself by the time a baby is 3 months old, through reductions in use of government medical assistance.

• Children who have strong bonds with their parents have better lifelong emotional health and a lower risk of later problems, including alcoholism, eating disorders, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

Reduced need for remedial education

• In first grade, children who participated in Healthy Families New York were nearly twice as likely as other at-risk children to be able to follow directions, complete work on time, or work cooperatively with others—the foundational skills needed for a lifetime of learning.

• Parents that participated in Parents as Teachers were more likely to read aloud, tell stories, say nursery rhymes, and sing with their children. These activities are key to successful brain development and lifetime language skills.

Increased self-sufficiency

• Mothers who participated in Healthy Families Arizona were found to be five times more likely than other similar mothers to be enrolled in an education or a job training program.

• Mothers who have more years of formal education have higher family income, are more likely to be married, and have better-educated spouses. They work more but do not spend less time breastfeeding, reading to their children, or taking them on outings.

• Children of better-educated mothers also do better in math and reading at ages 7 and 8. Better-educated mothers are more likely to invest in their children through books, providing musical instruments, special lessons, or the availability of a computer.

To learn more, click on this link. Contact your congressman if you wish to support renewing funding for the MIECHV program.

Do siblings of children with disabilities need help?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

unhappy-little-boyBrothers and sisters of a child with special needs are often negatively affected according to a July 2013 study in Pediatrics.

If you have a child with special needs, you know all too well the enormous time, energy and resources you expend to take care of her. You do it lovingly and willingly, and often to the exclusion of everything else. But what happens when you have more than one child? As much as you try to divide yourself among all of your children, it may be impossible to give attention to your other children when your child with a disability is in need of support or attention at that same moment. You can’t read a bedtime story to Johnny if Susie needs her therapy. It would be like going out for coffee instead of putting out a fire. It just doesn’t work. You try to divide yourself as equally as possible, but the responsibilities of caring for a child with a disability often make it impossible to be equitable. But, will there be long term effects on the “typical” siblings?

The results of this study

Although there have been other studies that have looked at the effects on brothers and sisters, this study was much larger. More importantly, it looked at families with children who live with a sibling with a disability and compared them to families with children who live with siblings who are typically developing.

This study examined how the parents’ care of a child with special needs impacts the other children in the family. The study found that children who have a sibling with a disability are more likely to experience difficulty functioning at school, in sports or activities, and with friends. They tended to get sick more frequently and experience more relationship problems, especially with their mother. They also experienced more psychological or emotional difficulties than children who did not have a sibling with a disability. But, children who had another typically developing sibling (in addition to a disabled sibling) tended to do better than a child with only one sibling who is disabled.

I don’t find these results surprising, do you? When you parent a child with special needs, your world centers around your child with a disability – it is only natural. Often, this is such a time-consuming task that your other children may feel that they do not get enough time to bond with Mom or Dad. You do your best, but your typically developing children definitely get a different kind of upbringing. The study authors commented “It is not that parents overlook their other children who are typically developing. Parents worry that they can’t provide enough for all their children.” Sound familiar?

This study emphasized the financial, physical and emotional toll of caring for a child with a disability. All of these stressors can lead to not noticing or having the time to deal with early signs of trouble in your “typical” children. If left untreated, these problems can lead to mental illness (such as depression and anxiety) and behavioral problems that negatively impact a child’s life. (Not to mention that all of this stress can affect you and your spouse or partner, too!) But don’t beat yourselves up parents – you are not super-human. Instead, let’s look at possible solutions.

So, what is the upshot?

First of all, not all siblings wind up having problems. But if they do, the study authors suggest “a family-based health care approach for all family members.”  Interventions aimed at helping parents learn better ways of juggling and managing stress, as well as providing strategies to help the brothers and sisters cope, can be very helpful.

• Check to see if your town has any support groups for parents of children with special needs. You may learn time management skills and other tips to help you balance the parenting load, and spend more time with your “typical” children. The extra coping and parenting skills for Mom and Dad will have a trickle down effect and help everyone in the family.

If you see any of your children acting out or turning inward and withdrawing, explore getting him help as soon as possible. You can do this in a several ways:

• take your child to his pediatrician for a check-up and discuss your concerns;
• have your child join a siblings support group;
• have your child speak with the counselor, social worker or psychologist at his school. Often, in a private setting with a non-family member, a child will open up about his feelings. This relief may go a long way in modifying his behavior and lifting his mood.

Try to get the ball rolling on getting your typical children help as early as possible. Early assessment and interventions can make a huge and lasting difference.

Bottom line

There is no doubt about it – life with a child with a disability affects all family members. You are not alone in your journey. Reach out for assistance and you will see that every little bit of help…helps.

What has worked for your family? We’d love to hear from you.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Kids cost how much???

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

piggy-bank1Some people say it takes a village to raise a child. That may be true, but I say it takes a whole lot of money! According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a middle income family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend about $234,900 for food, shelter and other necessities to raise a child until age 17. They report that for the year 2011, child rearing expenses ranged from $12,290 to $14,320 – per child, per year. And this does not include college or post high school education! There is no doubt about it, raising a child costs a lot of money.

Where does all your money go? The USDA’s June 2012 report Expenditures on Children by Families reveals that the single largest expense is for housing, followed by child care and education (not including college) and food. It does not include pregnancy and child birth expenses. Where you live matters. The urban Northeast is the most expensive place to raise a child, followed by the urban West and then urban Midwest. The USDA’s report also says that family income affects the costs – the higher the family income, the more it will cost to raise your child. Families earning more than $102,870 can expect a price tag of $389,670. Ouch!

A bit of good news here is that the expenses per child decrease as you have more kids. Those hand-me-downs reduce the incremental costs of new clothes and toys, and room sharing helps to keep the budget under control (even if it might increase sibling tensions at times). The report notes that often private schools or child care centers offer sibling discounts, and food can be purchased in larger quantities, helping to reduce the cost per child.

I don’t know about you, but I never sat down and did the math before deciding to have a baby. Now, thanks to the Internet, there are many ways that you can estimate how much money you need to save and how to prepare for your little one’s arrival. For example, to help you get a grip on where it all goes, and how to prepare for the change in your budget, the USDA has a nifty calculator to help you.

There is no doubt about it – kids cost money. But, an informed and educated parent will be better able to handle the increase in costs. Take the time now to understand your spending habits and make a plan, so it will pay off in the future (no pun intended)!

After all, we really can’t put a price on our kids – right?