The Health Access Nurturing Development Services program, commonly called HANDS, has expanded its services to not only provide services for first-time families, but also help parents who have other children.
The program is designed to provide intensive support to families through home visits using a structured curriculum, Weber reports. Specialists talk to the parents in home visits about the importance of bonding with their child before birth, developmental stages of the child, and its specific needs—such as clothing, food and furniture—and safety issues. The specialist also provides a weekly sounding board for questions and concerns of often-stressed parents of newborns.
“When we come to visit with you, not only do we want to have fun, but we want to be able to share information with you about your baby’s development, about pregnancy, just about new research that is coming out,” HANDS specialist Amber Green told Weber. “But what we don’t want to do is tell you the how-tos and the what-fors. We just want to share with you information about during pregnancy, maybe your child’s development, what maybe you can expect around milestones; but we are there to do it in a way that you can choose what information works best for your baby.”
The four goals of the outreach program, which Kentucky finances with money from the states’ 1998 settlement with tobacco manufacturers, are:
- Providing positive pregnancy outcomes
- Optimal child growth and development
- Allowing children to live in healthy, safe homes
- Helping families make decisions that enhance long term independence over meeting short term or immediate needs.
Clark County is the “biggest user per capita” in Kentucky, serving more than 4,900 families through over 57,000 visits since the programs inception in 1999, Weber reports.