Event | Event | August 28, 2020

ReadyNation Ohio and Every Child Succeeds Virtual Home Visit Event

ReadyNation Ohio and Every Child Succeeds hosted a virtual home visiting program to educate elected officials on the value of purposeful interactions with first-time mothers and their young children

Ages 0 to 3 are an incredible time in human development, impacting and influencing the rest of an individual’s life. Yet, many children in Ohio and across the nation are not receiving the support they need to develop and grow during these crucial years. As the pandemic continues, we need to ensure that Ohio children in this age range and their families receive the support they need to live a prosperous life. To discuss this important issue, ReadyNation Ohio and Every Child Succeeds hosted a virtual home visiting event to educate elected officials on the value of purposeful interactions with first-time mothers and their children prenatal to age 3.

Jim Spurlino, President and Owner of Spurlino Materials and proud ReadyNation Ohio member, kicked off the event. He introduced the conversation by discussing ReadyNation’s commitment to “giving an optimal start to children.” He then introduced Judith VanGinkel Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics, and president of Every Child Succeeds. “Toxicity in early childhood really makes a difference in how an individual grows,” she said. The Early Child Succeeds program has served 27,000 families and conducted 700,000 home visits. “We’ve documented positive outcomes for the work we’re doing,” VanGinkel concluded.

Jennifer Bernsden, Senior Specialist, Program Management for Early Child Succeeds then described how the program conducts visits. “It’s all about the parent-child interaction,” she said. “We visit our families weekly, to make sure parents are bonding with their children,” Bernsden explained. She then introduced Destiny Jackson, a mother who is a participant in the Early Child Succeeds program.

“The program has really helped me, even when I was pregnant,” Jackson says of her experience. “The home visitors I worked with helped me feel comfortable and bond with my baby,” she shared. The impact of the program on her life translated through the screen, especially when her young son joined the virtual event. His eyes lit up when he saw Kiersten Odum, an Every Child Succeeds home visitor, who then spoke of her experience.

“You truly are a partner with the parent,” Odum began. “It’s crucial during this time that our families know that we are still there for them. Our work may look different these days, but we’re still connecting.” After Odum concluded her thoughts, participants saw videos of a home drop-off and an interview with a family.

“I was pregnant when I started the program,” Early Child Succeeds participant-turned-home-visitor Latia Houston said. “I felt alone and hopeless. This program lifted a weight off of me.” Houston’s time as a participant in the program was extremely fruitful, leading her to join the team at Early Child Succeeds. “I got so much confidence in my parenting skills from this program. Now, I’m a home visitor, and I get to share my knowledge, helping communities, families, and most importantly—babies.”

Houston and Jackson’s stories moved the elected officials who joined the event. Representative George Lange was particularly touched, sharing his own experience in foster care and its impact on his life. “The thing I discovered about my time in foster care is the impact a kid’s early years can have on their entire lives. The impact is very clear and generational,” he said. Representative Lange concluded his comments sharing his support of programs like Early Child Succeeds. “We need to make sure we help kids have a positive childhood so that they can have a shot at the American dream.”

Early childhood has a tremendous effect on an individual’s life. Policymakers need to understand how important home visiting programs are to families, especially at-risk parents and children. There is a strong connection between home visiting and stronger families, reductions in child abuse, and other positive outcomes. As we continue to navigate the complexities of the current health crisis, we must not forget or neglect these programs. They inspire generational change and ensure a bright future for all.

A full video of the event may be found below

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