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New mothers served through the Visiting Moms program have often escaped political turmoil or humanitarian disasters, and/or experienced trauma, all of which may affect them psychologically and potentially impact family relationships. The Visiting Moms Program has been demonstrated to reduce maternal depression, which is correlated with child abuse and neglect.
The Visiting Moms serve as role models, demonstrating to new mothers ways to adapt to a new country and culture, and to nurture and bond with their children. Support provided from a similar cultural context is invaluable, as many new refugees and immigrant mothers are isolated from their support systems back in their home countries. Over time, the Visiting Moms aim to reduce isolation and increase confidence of mothers in their ability to parent. The Visiting Moms represent many cultures and speak many languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Somali, and Swahili).
In addition to helping new mothers adapt to a new culture and bond with their children, the Visiting Moms program has developed relationships with other community-based groups, such as Cradles to Crayons, in order to help moms with other needs such as baby clothes and equipment that they otherwise could not afford. Visiting Moms also work with Raising a Reader and serve as volunteer readers to preschool children.
MGH chelsea received a DPH grant to increase home visitng services to 30 additional high-risk moters and to offer Healthy Steps in the MGH chelsea Pediatrics Department to 400 first-time new moms.
Visiting Moms helped 57 high risk immigrant and refugee mothers who receive care at MGH Chelsea.
Visiting Moms had more than 1,590 encounters, 507 of which were home visits. These encounters included: Advocacy & Support (60%); and Assistance with concrete services (food, housing, clothing) (31%). After six months in the program, 60% of participants reported being more comfortable around their child, and 66% reported having more confidence as a parent.
In February 2011, the Visiting Moms collaborated with Raising a Reader for a parent-child literacy event at the Chelsea Public Library. Somali- and Spanish-speaking mothers and children sang popular childrens songs and played and read together.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has awarded MGH Chelsea Community Health Improvement and Adolescent and Pediatrics a $305,000 grant, renewable for up to five-years, to expand home visiting services to vulnerable and isolated new mothers and families.
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