Families Celebrate Success In Healthy Families America Program

January 19, 2023 | 4 min read

This blog about Healthy Families America® was originally published in August 2019. All relevant statistics and content has been updated as of January 2023.

The breeze blows through the hair of families on a warm, sunny June day; families are scattered between white foldout tables and an adjacent playground while some decorate picture frames to proudly display the hard work these children and families are celebrating.

Celebrations aren’t quite complete without food and especially cake. Colored frosting now colored the tongues of children, along with a couple of faces. Photos of happy families are framed, but the fun comes in the shape of gifts, congratulations, and balloons.

The occasion for this celebration? The graduation of five children and their families who successfully completed the Healthy Families America® (HFA®) program.

  • “The best part of the program was learning about my child’s development,” one family said. 
  • “[NCHS] guides and helps you in raising your child.”
  • One parent shared that their daughter is more outgoing, caring, and smart, thanks to the in-depth help given through the HFA® program.

About Healthy Families America®

The evidence-based and voluntary home visiting program was launched through NCHS in 2013 and continues to be a valuable beacon of support for families in 2022. Local HFA® programs are designed to support pregnant or parenting families of children birth to age five who may be facing significant life stressors. HFA® provides home visitation and meets families where they are in order to help them reach their goals and provide a safe, loving environment for the children in their care.

By using the Healthy Families America® model, NCHS provides families with the support, tools, and resources they need to ensure their children grow up in the most supportive and nurturing environment possible.

“As the home visitor and parent build a trusting relationship, they are also working to promote positive parent-child relationships and healthy attachment,” Healthy Families America® Coordinator Kelly Pohlman said.

Families are eligible to participate in the program if they live in Douglas or Sarpy County, meet income requirements, and the mom is pregnant, or the family is parenting a newborn who is under 3 months old at the time of enrollment.

By using the #HealthyFamiliesAmerica® model, @NEChildrensHome provides families with the support, tools, and resources they need to ensure their children grow up in the most supportive and nurturing environment possible. Read more:Click To Tweet

A home visitor meets with the family for one hour a week as they begin to work together and build a trusting relationship. After that, the family could be eligible to begin graduating levels to meet bi-weekly, then monthly, and finally quarterly.

How Healthy Families America® Supports Families

“We did child development activities during our home visits,” a family said. “The most challenging part of the program is finding time to meet, but the best was learning about my child’s development.”

A family can choose to stay with the program until their child turns five years old, and the program comes at absolutely no cost to the family.

“In order to be successful in the program, the family must commit their time to meet each week and actively participate in visits,” Pohlman said. “The home visitor works with each family to set goals and work toward achieving them. The home visitor is there to support the family, answer questions and help connect them to community resources.”

Home visitors use the Growing Great Kids curriculum to work with parents to increase their knowledge of ways to have a healthy pregnancy, their understanding of child development, and their comfort level in completing age-appropriate activities with their children.

The program is designed to be relationship-based between the home visitor and parent, as well as between the parent and the child.

“We are very relationship-based at the Children and Family Center. We meet families where they are and work with them at their pace. Our specialists have enjoyed implementing this program as it allows them to tailor their approach and the lessons they cover to their families' needs. They get to see both the parents and children learn and grow,” Pohlman said.

Positive Outcomes of HFA® and NCHS

In 2011, the United States Department of Health and Human Services recognized HFA® as one of the seven proven home-visiting models. It is the only national model that requires its programs to successfully complete a comprehensive accreditation process that is linked to best practice standards, according to Healthy Families America®.

“Because of the program, I care for my children better,” an HFA® graduate parent said. The growth families achieved during the program was evident that June evening as children laughed and played nearly endlessly at the Children and Family Center’s playground.

A healthy round of pizza and cupcakes were served before families crafted picture frames to hold their graduation photos. The frames were complete with a magnet to hang on the refrigerator at home proudly. Festivities were then taken indoors, where parents and children received gifts for completing the five-year program.

“Three, two, one!” children counted down as they finally pulled the string to release a sea of balloons. Now, laughter, smiling faces, and several multi-colored balloons fill the small room at the Children and Family Center.

According to Pohlman, NCHS is contracted with the state of Nebraska to provide services to 108 families at a time. Families are referred to the program through many different avenues, including social service agencies, hospital social workers, or families themselves.

For more information on Healthy Families America®, contact Kelly Pohlman at kpohlman@nchs.org or 402.253.5700.