You’ve got a friend at the Family Visitor Program | PostIndependent.com

You’ve got a friend at the Family Visitor Program

Nonprofit Spotlight
Kay Vasilakis

Family Visitor Program was established to address community concerns about the increase in child abuse, identified by a Garfield County Human Services needs assessment in the 1980s. The Home Visitor Program began providing home visitation services to families in the fall of 1983. In the agency’s first year, FVP served 70 families in one program, and in 2004 it served 510 families with three programs.

Family Visitor Program is the only agency providing regional, home-based parent support. FVP addresses the needs of pregnant women and their families and also families with young children. Last year, 510 families received services in agency programs, 369 families (64 percent Latino) received services through the Home Visitor Program, and 108 families (73 percent Latino) received services through the Nurse-Family Partnership Program.

The Home Visitor Program employs paraprofessional visitors who are extensively trained and provided with ongoing clinical supervision. The majority of Home Visitors (65 percent) are bilingual/bicultural, Spanish-speaking women able to provide services prenatally or after the birth of baby until the child turns 1 year old.

Agency services are available for all families. More than 50 percent of families are enrolled while the mother is still pregnant. Therefore, visitors assist families in affecting positive birth outcomes, establishing a safe and healthy home environment for the new baby and a trusting visitor-parent relationship.

Postpartum visits focus on ages and stages development, pre-literacy education, educational information, community resource referrals, screening and treatment for mental health problems. Warm Welcome and Moving On materials are distributed to all parents enrolled in any of the agency’s long-term programs. Community volunteers are trained to provide visits to parents who request one-time Warm Welcome and/or Moving On visits.

Visitor staff members are matched with families based on their language preference. All program materials used with clients are available in English and Spanish.

Funding has been the biggest challenge for the Family Visitors Program. The agency’s Home Visitor Program is dependent on grants and donations.

Family Visitor Program has served thousands of new parents and their newborns for 21 years. The program’s 22nd birthday is Oct. 4, with an event for children up to 3 years old and their parents at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

Kay Vasilakis is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. She can be reached at 945-8515, ext. 513 or by e-mail at kvasilakis@postindependent.com.


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