State program opens opportunities for parents
In 2016, I became a mother. Though I was excited to welcome my son Jax into the world, I was also overwhelmed by the demands of being a first-time parent and being responsible for someone other than myself. At the time, I was living hundreds of miles away from my family and friendship network and feeling very much alone.
The day after my son arrived, Mandy Galbraith from the Josephine County Healthy Families program came to see me. She explained that Healthy Families is a cost-free program that offered to help me make the transition into motherhood as smooth as possible. I was skeptical at first. I kept asking, "What's the catch?"
As it turned out, there was none.
After being diagnosed with post-partum depression, I decided to move closer to family in Oregon City. Healthy Families helped make this transition seamless for me and introduced me to Dawn Locke, my home visitor and my rock.
There were many times when I would pace my apartment in my pajamas, hair in an unwashed ponytail and emotionally drained from lack of sleep. I would sometimes count down the minutes until Dawn was scheduled to arrive for a visit and greet her at the door in tears. Sometimes, she was the only adult I would see all day.
Dawn was not only there to comfort me, but helped me see my own values and strengths as a mother. She was quick to point out all of the amazing things that I was doing right and provide me with concrete examples of the milestones my son was hitting because of these successes. We also set goals for my own personal growth and development.
Through Dawn, I connected with the Job Smart program in Clackamas County — an educational sponsorship which allows parents to go back to school while having their child care needs met.
Going back to school turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I earned a 4.0 GPA at Clackamas Community College and this opened more educational doors. I applied for more scholarships and am now a recipient of the National Build EXITO Research Scholarship, which partners with Portland State University. I will be moving forward on my educational journey this fall in pursuit of a master's degree in social work.
Without Healthy Families, none of this would have been possible.
Healthy Families Oregon touches the lives of over 100,000 families annually. Just think of all the amazing familial bonds that have been strengthened, resources that have been provided, opportunities offered and — most importantly — lives saved because of this amazing program.
My heartfelt thanks to Mandy, Dawn and all the others who work so hard for families and who are fighting to secure funding for this important program this legislative session.
Kaylin Noblin of Oregon City supports Healthy Families Oregon, a voluntary home-visiting program focused on strengthening the parent-child relationship to assure healthy child growth and development. More information at oregonearlylearning.com/healthy-families-oregon.