Guest Post: Healthy Families Jacksonville

HFJ Home Visit
A Healthy Families home visitor meets with a client.

This guest post was written by Mary Nash, the Program Manager for Healthy Families Jacksonville at the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.

Healthy Families, like Healthy Start, uses the state Healthy Start prenatal and infant screen to identify clients with risk factors that may benefit from services.

As the Program Manager for Healthy Families Jacksonville, I place great value in the partnership with the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. These two programs have developed a collaborative model that has allowed our community to best meet the needs of all families.

Healthy Families is a nationally accredited, evidence-based, voluntary home visiting program that is proven to prevent child abuse/neglect and improve outcomes for Jacksonville’s highest-risk families. Services begin prenatally or at birth and promote positive parent-child relationships, child health and development and increased family stability and self-sufficiency. What is unique about these services is the value that is placed on the individual family and their own unique goals and motivations. As trust is built and strengths are acknowledged, we see families effectively build the strong, safe foundation necessary for a child’s healthy growth and development.

Locally, this program receives funding from the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida and The City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission serves as the lead agency for this work. In addition, the Commission partners with The Bridge of Northeast Florida to provide direct services.

It is through Healthy Start screens that Healthy Families enrolls the majority of families served. Research and program outcomes clearly state that the earlier we can connect with a family, the larger the impact on the health and well-being of the parent, the child, and the important bond that is necessary between the two. Thus, we see the critical need to have prenatal screens completed for all pregnant women, so that they can be connected to services to meet their unique needs.

From the State level to our local programs, Healthy Start and Healthy Families have successfully achieved true collaboration and Jacksonville’s families will continue to benefit as a result. As families are touched by one or both of these programs, the result will be healthier, safer, more self-sufficient families who in turn have healthier, happier children now and in the future.