If you’re a young mother, father or family raising young kids in Jeffco,Claudia Benavidez wants you to know she’s got your back. Benavidez is a Family Navigator for Jeffco Public Health. As part …
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If you’re a young mother, father or family raising young kids in Jeffco,Claudia Benavidez wants you to know she’s got your back.
Benavidez is a Family Navigator for Jeffco Public Health. As part of this recently launched program, her goal is to help families by pointing them to resources, including home visiting programs, they might not be aware of.
Jeffco has 12 different programs with experts to help young families deal with things like Head Start, SafeCare — which helps families childproof dangerous spaces, Early Intervention for children with developmental disabilities, breastfeeding, perinatal depression and health care, just to name a few.
Benavidez says her role is to take the guesswork out of which program might be the most beneficial for each family, by providing them with information and referring them to the best fit.
Currently, the program is integrated into the www.jeffcofamiliescolorado.org website, but folks in need are welcome to reach out in other ways. JCPH is trying to get the word out about the program through a new social media campaign and hoping partner organizations will start referring more young families that need a helping hand Venavidez’s way.
Mary Margaret Fouse-Bishop, a nurse supervisor with JCPH said getting folks to understand what the program is all about is important to the mission. She said that in a society where people are used to just taking care of themselves or their individual families, a program where someone from outside the family unit who wants to help can seem out of the ordinary, but a home or virtual visit from Benavidez is a way to simplify the process of connecting young families with needs to programs that can help.
Benavidez says in the beginning, families she speaks with can be a bit skeptical or unsure of what she’s trying to do.
“At first, they’re like “What is it? Is it a social services visit?” she says. “But I just explain to them it’s just to help educate you to be a better mom to your child.”
She says parenting is not easy. And once she gets people to see she’s on their side, they’re usually pretty receptive to getting some assistance. Once she makes the referral to a partner program, she lets that agency take over, but she continues to make sure they’re getting the help they need.
“I do reach out a couple weeks after they’ve been in the program to see how they’re feeling,” she says. “Once their program ends, we can also refer them to a different program if they have additional needs.”
Fouse-Bishop says the social media campaign is still new but they’re already seeing an increase in web traffic. Right now, she says only about 8% of eligible families in the county have taken part, but they’re hoping the program will continue to grow and that eventually they may even need to hire another family navigator.
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