Birth & Beyond is an AmeriCorps program whose 105 AmeriCorps members serve at Family Resource Centers. Using a home visitation model, they provide classes to parents at high risk for child abuse, using the evidence-based Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP). Here’s the story of one of those families (names changed for privacy)
The family was referred to Birth & Beyond through Child Protective Services, conducted through a joint visit. There were concerns regarding “Sara’s” mental health. Sara was isolated, and suffered from high anxiety any time she needed to leave the home for any reason — she would go weeks at a time without stepping outside.
Sara began weekly home visits with her AmeriCorps home visitor. After some time, Sara also began attending classes at the Family Resource Center. Though apprehensive in the beginning, she quickly began to open up to her AmeriCorps home visitor. She became engaged, participated in the NPP lessons, and implemented learnings with her children on a regular basis.
Several months into weekly home visits, Sara disclosed that she had been in an abusive relationship for years, and felt unsafe. The AmeriCorps home visitor, B&B supervisors and staff gathered to discuss ways in which they could support Sara. After connecting her with domestic violence providers, and working with Child Protective Services (CPS), they were able to find a shelter for the safety of Sara and her children. Sara said that if it were not for Birth & Beyond and the education provided by her AmeriCorps home visitor regarding the impacts of violence on children’s brains and educating Sara on healthy relationships and self-care, she would have continued to live in fear and not have sought out help when she did.
Sara and her children are now safely living in an apartment, and she has obtained full custody through the courts. She says she no longer suffers from anxiety, and believes her mental struggles were a result of being in an abusive relationship for such a long time. Sara still attends activities at the FRC, and her children appear to be healthy and thriving.
In 2017-18 the Birth & Beyond AmeriCorps Program served 465 parents through home visitation. For those with a CPS history, 93% had no new referrals to Child Protective Services. For those at risk, but with no history, 100% had no CPS involvement.