“A Strong Support System” Home Visitation Services Help Parents Succeed

   
After escaping an abusive relationship, Laura Medina returned to her home state of New Jersey, with a resolve to start fresh and build a new life for herself and her two small children – a daughter, then age seven months, and a son, age 2.

“I was damaged -- emotionally, mentally, physically,” Medina remembers. “I had a lot of trust issues. I was struggling. It was hard.”

Then she found her way to Healthy Families, a home visitation service operated by the VNA Health Group.  She was assigned a family support worker who would become her mentor, her coach, her friend.

As part of the program, the two sat down and identified Laura’s goals, which included, first and foremost, getting an education so she could land a better job and provide for her children. Then, they mapped out a step-by-step plan for Laura to achieve those goals.

“Having an education is very, very essential to providing for my kids,” Laura says. “The most important thing to me is providing for my kids.”

The VNA family support worker also assisted Laura with parenting issues and identified resources that could help Laura through the tough times. Essentially, the worker and the program became a support system for the young mother.

With this support, Laura was able to earn her associate’s degree, while working part-time and caring for her kids. The former Newark resident then secured a job as a certified nurse’s aide at a local nursing home. But she wasn’t satisfied. She wanted more. So she went back to school to earn her bachelor’s degree and found a better job as a teacher’s aide at the Essex Regional Education Services Commission. She is now earning a degree in education, has plans to get her master’s and wants to become a teacher.

Laura says the support she received from Healthy Families was instrumental in helping her meet her goals.

“I do believe these services are beneficial to parents,” Laura says. “I accomplished a lot of goals – beyond what I expected. It was knowing that help is out there.”

And, like an old friend, her family support worker is just a phone call away. “If I have any issues, I can call them,” Laura says. “They’re like a support system and that’s important in any family situation. A strong support system goes a long way.”

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