Safe Babies Healthy Families is a new organization created by a merger of two long-term, successful agencies. Pregnancy Support Connection (also formerly known as the UP Connection) and Healthy Families of Waukesha County, merged to establish SAFE BABIES HEALTHY FAMILIES, effective on January 1, 2012. This merger into a single entity increases the capacity to provide more and higher quality service to the community than either agency could have accomplished individually. The new organization will make it possible to provide a continuum of service model that serves two populations – isolated, abused and pregnant young women and young, at-risk families who lack financial, health and social supports. Our community is well-served when prevention and early intervention services are provided to a high-risk population, increasing the chances that its members will succeed and become productive in our society.
Our shared vision of breaking the cycle of child abuse, neglect and poverty through education, support and resources made the merger an ideal way to provide seamless services to at-risk families and their children.
OUR PARENT ORGANIZATIONS
Safe Babies Healthy Families was established in 1985 as the UP Connection through the generosity and support of ProHealth Care, who saw the need for a pregnancy resource center for at-risk young women/teenage girls who were facing an unplanned, crisis pregnancy in Waukesha County. It was originally named the “UP Connection” which stood for “uplifting and empowering” young women to make healthier choices and sound decisions for themselves and their newborns. From its humble beginnings as the UP Connection, operating out of a spare office at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, the Pregnancy Support Connection grew to serve more than 2000 young women/teenage girls annually in Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties.
Providing vital referrals and connections to outside community resources has remained a core component of the Safe Babies Healthy Families’ services. As a way to meet the growing needs of its client base, the agency began offering individualized prenatal and parenting education, adoption information/referral assistance, childbirth education classes, and comprehensive case management services; including follow-up home visits for continued support and education to new parents up to one year post-partum. Bi-lingual services were added in 2002.
The Pregnancy Resource Hotline was an early addition to the agency as a way to offer anonymous, non-judgmental, and confidential pregnancy information, critical to callers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Many times this is the very first call made by a young, scared, expectant mother looking for assistance. The caller is often frantic and panic-stricken.
“I’m 15 years old, I think I’m pregnant, I can’t talk to anyone, what do I do?”
Many young clients seeking assistance have personal histories of abuse, neglect, poverty or other extenuating circumstances. Over 80% of these young women have experienced childhood sexual abuse.
In 2003, after recognizing an on-going need for SAFE HOUSING for many of its clients, Pregnancy Support Connection collaborated with the Waukesha Housing Authority to open “The Linden Cherish (TLC) home”, a maternity home for first-time young adult mothers, ages 18-21 and their infants. The housing program extends to more than just providing an immediate “shelter” through its intensive life-skills coaching, mentoring, parenting education, and individualized counseling for up to 24 months. Additionally, while living at The Linden Cherish home, clients are required to be attending school and/or be employed part-time. They contribute a portion of their wages toward rent, utilities and groceries. They are able to earn additional baby supplies and general housing items through the “Earn as You Learn” program. Once the residents have graduated from the TLC program, they become eligible for an independent apartment for up to an additional 24 months, based on their on-going accomplishments in positive parenting, education and employment goals. They receive monthly case management services, mentoring, on-going parenting education and links to appropriate community resources.
It was decided in 2007 that the agency should change its name from the UP Connection to the “Pregnancy Support Connection” to more clearly identify the services offered.
Healthy Families of Waukesha County became a credentialed site of Healthy Families America, the signature program of Prevent Child Abuse America, since it began in 1992. Within a year, Healthy Families was credited with reducing child abuse in Waukesha County by 30%. Providing parent education and support to high-risk families through consistent in-home visitation, parents learned to bond with their children and create a loving and nurturing home. Using early child development curriculum and developmental screening tools, children are monitored to ensure that they are developing at an optimal level. These screening tools are essential in providing early detection and intervention with any potential problem areas. Helping families to get connected to appropriate resources in the community, including consistent health care, has been one of the many significant benefits of the home-visitation program. Promoting and encouraging families to develop personal and parenting goals, skill enhancement, continuing education and self-sufficiency have been additional benefits to participants. Through consistent adherence to the industry’s best practices and highest standards, Healthy Families of Waukesha maintained a solid ranking of 96-98% program success for participants who remained free of substantiated abuse and/or neglect, significant reduction of the cycle of dependency on public assistance, and children who have entered kindergarten, ready to learn.
?Healthy Families of Waukesha County has been a pilot site in Wisconsin’s Early Home Visitation Outcomes Project. Through this project, the programs adhere to best practices in using the required tools. The Outcomes Project records and reports both as individual programs and as an aggregate the outcomes that are critical for early child development and stable parenting. Pilot site programs continue to have higher success rates than other Wisconsin home visitation programs that are not part of the project.
In 2003, Healthy Families became a separate 501(c)(3) in order to have a higher visibility in the community and to stay focused on the mission to reduce child abuse.