Parenting can be hard, and it is even more difficult during times of stress and uncertainty. It’s important for parents and caregivers to take care of themselves and build their resilience to weather difficult times. With the stress of the past year – financially, emotionally, and socially – many parents might feel like they have reached their breaking point. And research has shown `that isolation or limited social connections for parents are risk factors that can result in higher rates of child abuse and neglect.
One way that parents can care for themselves and better care for their children is by growing their knowledge of parenting and childhood development. SafeCare Colorado, a program of Northwest Colorado Health, is a free, voluntary program that works with parents to build a solid foundation supporting children’s growth during key development years.
“We understand that all parents have strengths,” said Kim Maneotis, SafeCare Colorado Supervisor with Northwest Colorado Health. “We partner with families to help them build on their strengths and recognize their personal power to help ensure family success.”
SafeCare connects Parent Support Providers with families who have children five and younger who could use extra support keeping their young children safe and healthy. The first and most important step is establishing rapport so parents feel comfortable inviting Parent Support Providers into their home (in-person or virtually). This opens the door to a knowledge-sharing relationship that boosts parents’ confidence and eases the stress of what can be a challenging journey for anyone.
The program then focuses on three education modules – home safety, child health and parent-child interactions.
The home safety portion of the program focuses on identifying and addressing hazards to babies and toddlers on the move. SafeCare provides electrical outlet covers, doorknob covers, baby gates and other items families need to protect their children from common household hazards.
In the child health module parents receive a first aid kit and manual to guide them through common child illnesses and injuries. They discuss different scenarios – how to care for their child at home, when they should see a doctor and when to seek emergency care.
Parents also receive guidance on developing healthy bonds with their babies and establishing routines and expectations to encourage good behavior as children grow.
Families who benefit from SafeCare often face hardships related to income, housing, transportation, partner and peer support and health issues. In addition to the three modules, Parent Support Providers also connect parents to community resources that can help with basic living needs so they can focus more on their children’s health and safety.
“Parents always like learning and getting more tools for their toolboxes, but one of the most valuable parts of the SafeCare program is building the relationship between families and the Parent Support Provider,” said Maneotis. “Not everyone has a good support system and we are there to help connect families to community resources and other community partners. The entire community plays a role in protecting our kids. When families have support, and their basic needs are being met, there is less stress in the homes which decreases child abuse and neglect.”
SafeCare receives referrals from community organizations and health care providers. SafeCare referrals can also come from family members, and parents and caregivers can inquire about the program for themselves.
Northwest Colorado Health has been offering the program in Moffat and Routt Counties since 2017, and expanded to Rio Blanco County in 2020.
For more information or to make a referral visit northwestcoloradohealth.org/safecare or call 970-870-4119.