A $1,000 donation from the University of Connecticut Health Center Auxiliary will help the Nurturing Families Network at the UConn Health Center carry out its mission to provide phone, group and home visitation support for first-time parents.
“We expect a 2-to-5-percent reduction in funding statewide, so this award is very timely,” says Jennifer Vendetti, a UConn Health Center social worker and coordinator of the Connections program. “It will be used to advance staff training in maternal mental health, promote child development and parent-child relationships through newly displayed materials in UCHC pediatrics waiting areas, and other special projects.”
Connections is an intended gateway into the Nurturing Families Network for first-time parents. The UConn Health Center became an NFN site in 2007. Connecticut has 42 sites, including all 29 birthing hospitals.
“The Auxiliary was happy to be able to help this worthwhile cause and know that we have been able to help in a training program to benefit parent-child relationships,” says Auxiliary Facilitator Irene Engel.
The Auxiliary’s gift enabled the Nurturing Families Network at the UConn Health Center to co-sponsor training on perinatal mental health provided by MotherWoman, a Massachusetts nonprofit whose mission is to support and empower mothers “to create positive personal and social change.”
“This award really opens our opportunity to participate in training like this,” Vendetti says. “We really wouldn’t have the power to do that without some help.”
The March 15 MotherWoman training session led to a larger discussion about the need to support the emotional and psychological needs of mothers during and after pregnancy. Two days earlier, a mother, while holding her 10-month-old son, jumped to her death from the eighth floor of her New York City apartment. The baby survived with minor injuries.
That larger discussion spawned the Connecticut Perinatal Support Coalition, an advocacy movement to create a comprehensive safety net for new mothers. The Children’s Trust Fund, the division of the state Department of Social Services that created the Nurturing Families Network, is among the founding participants.