Dannielle H.

When Dannielle Hucks welcomed Healthy Start Clay County social worker Trish Hoffman in to check on her newborn son, Christopher, there was a marvelous moment of recognition. They had worked together before, during the first year after Dannielle’s six-year-old daughter Nicole was born.

“She was shocked to see how much she had grown and loved seeing her again,” Dannielle said. “I was glad to see her too.”

The continuity and comfort of being able to work with someone that she knew mattered immensely to Dannielle. It is through her work with Trish that she has become knowledgeable in using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), a tool that measures indicators in a child’s growth and development. The questionnaire is designed to help families notice developmental milestones and if there are any concerns and suggests activities parents can do to help the child succeed.

“I rely on the social worker to answer any questions about the growth of my children,” she said. “They go through it with you to make sure that everything is on track. I learned the milestones in depth and the certain stages of a baby’s growth that are so important. The spectrum of a child’s growth varies so much.”

Tucked away on an Orange Park sidestreet, Dannielle and her husband have a tight-knit family home that is very focused on their children. Whether it’s a decision about a visit next door to use a skateboard ramp, homework responsibilities for their daughter or helping her deal with difficulties surrounding the birth of their new baby, their conversations together make it obvious that a lot of thought and effort goes into making this home focused on the children.

Since beginning with Healthy Start’s basic family program in 2006, Dannielle has become the mother of three; an 11-year-old stepson who lives with them, her 6-year-old daughter, Nicole, and baby Christopher. With her two biological children, Healthy Start has played an important role in understanding children how children develop and succeed.

As the baby woke from his nap, Dannielle spoke of how much she was enjoying her new son, even when he was fussy or needing attention. As he began to cry himself awake, she smiled.

“He doesn’t like to lay down, even when he’s tired,” she said. “But he’s such a pleasant baby to be with.”

Learning about child development and growth through tools like the ASQ has inspired Dannielle to go back to school. After getting her degree in education, she hopes to teach. The Healthy Start program has given Dannielle the foundation she is using to go on and work with other children.

“It’s such an amazing thing, especially for first time moms,” she said. “You learn so much more than you ever thought you would. They are so well organized and sweet. They love their jobs, you can tell, because they love being around the moms and babies.”
Dannielle is grateful for the comfort and knowledge they have provided and is ready to pay it forward.