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Psychiatry department new site for program to help families at risk

by Chris DeFrancesco - September 4, 2007

The Children’s Trust Fund, an independent state agency whose mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, is expanding its Nurturing Families Network program.

One of its new sites is the Department of Psychiatry at the UConn Health Center.

The Nurturing Families program offers parents a resource for care coordination and services, family development groups, and home-based support, particularly for teen parents and first-time parents.

“The goal of Nurturing Families is to provide services to women and families who may have risk factors like age, socio-economic disadvantages, or lack of social support,” says Karen Steinberg, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Health Center, who is managing the Nurturing Families program in Farmington.

The psychiatry department is providing referrals, family development, and other support services.

Families receiving services through the obstetrics and gynecology department, neonatal intensive care unit, newborn nursery, and pediatrics are eligible, as are members of the surrounding community.

“We will try to meet with every first-time mother to let her know about the available services, and see if she would be interested in or eligible for any of them,” Steinberg says.

The services include outreach and telephone support, prenatal and parenting groups, and home visiting services.

About the home visits, Steinberg says, “We can help parents read their baby’s cues and signals.”

Jennifer Vendetti, Nurturing Families coordinator in the psychiatry department, says, “the program offers an important and much-needed service here.”

Karen Steinberg, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Health Center.
Karen Steinberg, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Health Center who manages the Health Center’s new Nurturing Families Network site. The network is supported by the Children’s Trust Fund.
Photo by Al Ferreira

The Children’s Trust Fund is providing $200,000 a year for the Health Center’s Nurturing Families program, made possible with the help of Farmington’s two state representatives, Beth Bye and Demetrius Giannaros.

The psychiatry department is managing the budget.

“I am delighted that the UConn Health Center in Farmington has volunteered to house the Nurturing Families Network program,” Giannaros says.

“Our priority should be to support kids and families toward a healthy and productive life. The Nurturing Families Network will help us accomplish this objective.”

The Health Center is one of nine locations in Connecticut designated as a new Nurturing Families site. UConn’s opened June 1.

“The availability of programs like NFN to new parents is critical in preventing child abuse and neglect,” says Karen Foley-Schain, executive director of the Children’s Trust Fund.

“With this expansion, every new mother and father in Connecticut will have access to NFN’s program providers and resources.”

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