Home visiting program offers free support to new parents

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s important to support parents as they face the challenges of parenthood.

The Shoreline Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program or MIECHV, provides that help in the comfort of their home. The home visiting program is offered free to any woman expecting a baby who lives in four shoreline communities. The East Shore District and West Haven Health Departments are educating parents, during pregnancy and after giving birth.

Moms like Sandra Rivera, who gave birth to her first baby nine weeks ago, daughter Antonella.

“My baby is the best, I , I feel special,” said Rivera.

When parenting gets challenging, she turns to Evelyn Selimaj, with Shoreline MIECHV.

“When you know what development stage your child is going through, you know what to expect and you can actually parent better,” said Selimaj.

She stops in at least once a week, to answer questions Rivera might have such as, “how to handle temper tantrums when they get older. How much sleep does my baby need.” And, how to breast feed baby. But providing much needed support to parents like Antonella’s, starts with forging a close relationship.

“When you need help,” said Selimaj, “it’s not as easy to ask for it, if you don’t have that trusting relationship with someone.”

It helps that Selimaj is fluent in Spanish, Rivera’s first language. Rivera said, “Mi comprende mucho.” Selimaj interpreted, “she learned how to do routines when she comes home, to sleep to wake up, makes sure the baby knows what to expect.”

Modeled after a national program, MIECHV targets high risk communities.

“We focus on improving maternal child health and reducing preterm birth,” said Clinical Supervisor, Alison Tyliszczak, “we focus on reduction in emergency department visits, instances in child abuse and neglect.”

It’s not just Moms getting guidance. Tyliszczak added, “the same support that we provide to our moms, we can also work individually with Dad and provide that support to Dad as well.”

For Rivera, it comes down to being the best parent possible to little Antonella.

“It’s all new for me but it’s very important to have the information.”

The free pregnancy support program serves families in East Haven, West Haven, Branford and North Branford. It’s for any woman who is pregnant, and covers families from the pre-natal stage all the way until the child is five years old.

For more information call 203-466-1958 or log onto www.shorelinemiechvpat.org.

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