Offering ‘Security’ through education

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Presbyterian Healthcare Services/Socorro General Hospital is offering the “Circle of Security,” a free, community-based program that offers post-partum visits to mothers who have delivered at Socorro General Hospital, as well as parenting education to “high-risk” families in Socorro county.

“High risk” criteria includes the following:

  • adolescent mothers
  • chronic and acute heath issues
  • substance abuse — alcohol and other drug use

Program lowers risk

According to statistics provided by PHS/SGH, more than 43 percent of 2011 Socorro births were documented as “high risk” due to chronic/acute health issues, drug or alcohol use and adolescent pregnancy. Of the 231 mothers from Socorro County delivering babies, 80 delivered in Albuquerque hospitals and also represented a large percentage of high risk deliveries.

“We want people to know about this, and we’re here to help,” said Beth Beers, director of community outreach with PHS/SGH. “Community organizations, church groups, civic groups, social service agencies — we look to every possible source for referrals.”

The program anticipates serving at least 180 families. The project is committed to making sure all Socorro birth families have the opportunity to participate, according to Beers. Eligibility is open to all area residents. The goal is to “help moms and dads to be the best parent ever,” she said.

The program has also been fined tuned to address the special populations in the area. An example of the program’s focus on in-depth outreach are workshops in Veguita that are offered in Spanish, and some that are on-site at the Alamo reservation. Via culturally-specific training, many program staff are bilingual. The program has also collaborated with Navajo partners to develop a adolescent health, risk-avoidance curriculum, appropriate for the Navajo community. It’s called “Walk in Beauty” and works with local translators as needed.

The curriculum emphasizes these core emotional and physical needs for infants and children:

  • love
  • emotional safety
  • care
  • connection
  • sustenance/food

Each session offers incremental lessons based around everyday activities that all new mothers will face. As an illustration, the group session on proper baby-feeding addresses what emotional benefits emerge during this bonding time together and how to deal with problems in a proactive, child-centered way. Starting with small things like introducing babies to new foods, participants also learn how to monitor their baby’s responses. They learn how to deal with finicky eating, gauging real hunger versus other needs; and avoiding pressuring child to eat a specific food or all their food.

Parental self-image improved

Parental emotional intelligence is enhanced by providing the tools with which they can become a more solid, stable presence for the child. Parents are given strategies to develop closeness, appropriate boundaries, and consistently meet their child’s basic survival needs — in particular good nutrition. The benefits parents receive include reduced anxiety, positive self-image as a parent, increased ability to identify their child’s needs and life-long positive parent techniques.

An informal, early assessment of “Circle of Security” by PHS indicate the following:

  • Improved relationships between parent or caregiver, moving away from poorly-thought out and tentative behavior with the goal of confidence and repeated behavior for significant adults;
  • Better strategies to deal with stress, problem behavior and parental difficulties;
  • Increased safety for children and enhanced, closer relationships.
  • Increased parental/caregiver affection, sensitivity, delight and support for exploration.

“We want to offer Socorro parents as much help as we can,” said Beers.

 


-- Email the author at lalvarado@dchieftain.com.