VALDOSTA – Raising a baby takes a village.
Now South Health District’s Baby LUV/Parents As Teachers (PAT) Healthy Start Program can be part of that village for more families.
Baby LUV was created in 2008 due to the high infant mortality rate in Lowndes County. In 2018, it became the Baby LUV/PAT Program focusing on the Parents as Teachers Evidence-Based Curriculum.
Effective July 2019, the Georgia Department of Public Health was awarded funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through its Healthy Start Initiative: Eliminating Disparities in Perinatal Health.
The funds support the Georgia Strong Families Program (GSP) and allowed BABY LUV/PAT to expand their services from only Lowndes County to include Brooks and Echols counties.
Through GSP, Baby LUV/PAT is now able to serve at least 350 pregnant women, new mothers, infants and fathers across these counties.
This program aims to improve birth outcomes for pregnant women with high risk conditions and families with children up to 3 years of age with a focus on parent-child interaction, family well-being and developmental-centered parenting.
Program services range from care for women, children and families such as healthcare coordination, home visitation, case management and linkages to community social services.
Women and infants that participate in the program are linked to local programs such as WIC, Children 1st and other community resources. In addition, the program will help build a more effective and efficient service-delivery system and promote and improve health equity across the area.
“We want to focus on every aspect of baby’s life, not just during pregnancy,” Tiffany Crowell RN, MSN/MBA, Perinatal Executive Director with Baby LUV/PAT Healthy Start Program Manager. “ We are here to provide education to pregnant mothers to protect mama and baby before they are born and make sure they are born happy and healthy. We are here to visit the new mama and baby in their home once they are born to make sure their environment is safe and healthy. And now we are proud to also offer support to new fathers throughout Fatherhood Initiative. We really are trying to love and support all aspects of baby’s life.”
Healthy Start also allowed the Baby LUV/PAT program to extend services to fathers through their Fatherhood Initiative.
The Fatherhood Initiative is a 12- week program that allows new fathers access to resources, services, networking, job fairs, gift card awards, and a hot meal at each weekly session.
Baby LUV Fatherhood Initiative Dads receive the following: National Fatherhood 24/7 Dad Curriculum, childcare resources and services, housing referrals, financial literacy, job readiness, educational support including reading, high school or GED support, legal information and health and wellness information.
Meetings are held every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the South Health District Office, 325 West Savannah Avenue Valdosta, Ga 31601.
For more information or to apply, fathers can contact Sheila Cole, Baby LUV/PAT Healthy Start Health Educator at 229-262-8418 or Sheila.Cole@dph.ga.gov.
Nearly 4,000 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States. As of 2018, Georgia averages three infant deaths every week due to SIDS and other sleep-related deaths. Many of these deaths result from accidental suffocation, overlay and entrapment.
Baby LUV/PAT focuses vigilantly on educating new or soon to be parents on safe sleep practices.
One of the tools they use to share safe sleep education is the ABCs of safe sleep.
Alone – Always place baby on his or her back to sleep for all sleep times, including naps. Have the baby share your room, not your bed. Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.
Back – Babies should be placed on their back to sleep. Every nap. Every sleep. Every time.
Crib – Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet. Keep soft objects, toys, pillows, crib bumpers, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.
Another service provided by the Baby LUV/PAT program is the Home Visiting program. Through this program, certified home visitor case managers can serve up to 180 families with education to the prenatal mother during her entire pregnancy. Services continue postnatally until the infant is 18 months old and can sometimes continue up to 3 years old.
The visits take place once or twice a month depending on the risk factors. Case managers use evidence-based curriculums including Parents as Teachers (PAT), Florida State University (FSU) Partners for a Healthy Baby and Healthy Start, to educate families.
The program provides screenings such as: Life Skills Progression, Edinburgh, HITS (Domestic Violence Screening), Ages and Stages, PICCOLO, Well Child visits, and more.
High risk mothers are enrolled in their first trimester.
Referrals can come from Perinatal Case Management Services from our district health departments, community agency referrals, physician offices or word of mouth.
Those identified that qualify for the program will be contacted by Baby LUV/PAT staff.
For more information on the Baby LUV/PAT Healthy Start program contact Phyllis Clark, administrative support, at (229) 262-8411 or stop by the new office located at 110-A McKey Street in Valdosta.