By Mary Owen
A new home-visiting program will offer hands-on support for families with young children in Stayton, Lyons and Mehama.
“Part of our focus will be to build collaboration among community partners in this area,” said Kaye Cepeda, a family service supervisor for Family Building Blocks, a private, nonprofit Salem-based organization serving families at-risk in Marion County.
FBB works to break the intergenerational cycle of child abuse and neglect by providing services to high-risk families that are expecting a child or have children 6 weeks to 5 years old.
As well as providing home-based services to area families with young children, FBB wants to provide play groups to spur socialization for parents and children, Cepeda said.
“Part of our wrap-around service provides not only intensive parenting education, community referrals and support, but focusing on school readiness and early literacy,” Cepeda said. “We already have our first client.”
According to FBB, more than 200 families in southeast Marion County would qualify for home-visit services. These families face challenges such as poverty, isolation, lack of transportation, mental illness and drug and/or alcohol addictions, Cepeda said.
A $64,891 grant funded by the Oregon Community Foundation’s Doris J. Wipper Fund opened the doors for FBB to work in the three Santiam Canyon communities.
“We are indebted to the Doris J. Wipper Fund for making a significant commitment to bettering people’s lives in these communities,” said Sue Miller, FBB executive director. “Working together, we will make a difference.”
The FBB home visitor assesses each child on a regular basis using developmental screening tools. If a delay is identified, children are referred to early intervention services.
“Parents enjoy having the support and parenting information that the home visitor provides,” Cepeda said. “Children and parents enjoy the tailored activities provided for the child during the home visits. If a family is able to attend play groups, parents enjoy meeting other adults and children enjoy playing in a structured environment.”
Parents routinely receive referrals for mental health services, play therapy for their child, Head Start applications, and support tracking their child’s immunizations, Cepeda added.
In 2010, all of the 279 children enrolled in FBB’s home visitation services were able to live safely with their families, thus avoiding the trauma of abuse, neglect and foster chair, according to FBB statistics. The organization anticipates similar positive outcomes with its new presence in the Stayton area.
“Community awareness is critical as we reach out to families in communities that are not familiar with our services,” Cepeda said. “Educating community partners concerning the services we provide is also key.”
Keeping children safe and with their parents is the key goal of FBB’s outreach, she said.
“A family with stability is successful in maintaining a nurturing environment for their child,” Cepeda said. “This in turn helps the child learn and be a successful student. These children are able to stay out of foster care and grow up to be engaged citizens of the community.”
Cepeda related a recent success story focuses on a family that moved on a regular basis.
“The parent had special needs, and we assisted the parent in completing Head Start forms,” she said. “We referred the child to early intervention where the child received services. The child begins Head Start next month.”
Cepeda calls it a “milestone” for FBB for a client to interact with another client at a play group.
“Once they exchange contact information, this could be the beginning of a long friendship between the
children and both families,” she said. “We recently interviewed a new family where the child has a difficult time expressing himself and injures himself when he becomes frustrated as he communicates. We referred the child to play therapy and intervention services.”
Cepeda said community support has been encouraging.
“These people have a genuine interest in our services and want to help us in our endeavor to spread the word about this new service for families and children,” she said. “It has been amazing to hear all of the wonderful suggestions and ideas that folks have given us. Some of them have volunteered to help us at community events and play groups.”
For information, contact Family Building Blocks at 503-566-2132.