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Many of us can say that our parent or grandparent was our first teacher. They were also likely our first caregiver, cook, driver, activity coordinator, and playmate. Those are a lot of responsibilities. And each one draws on a different set of skills and resources, which is why the Children & Family Resource Center (CFRC) was founded more than 25 years ago in Henderson County.
CFRC’s mission is to nurture the development of children by building a strong foundation of family and community through innovative programs to support early childhood development, high quality childcare, parenting education, and connection to community resources. A common goal for all of CFRC’s initiatives is meeting families where there are, sometimes literally, with programs like the newly launched GLO Mobile.
This family resource center on wheels brings CFRC’s proven services into communities where transportation, financial, language and other barriers prevent some residents from accessing important resources for their children. Families can participate in guided activities with their children that help them prepare for success in kindergarten. They can engage with other families and practice social and emotional regulation skills. The GLO Mobile also offers important health screenings and can connect families to needed resources like food, diapers and healthcare.
Although most of the services on the GLO Mobile aren’t new, taking them on the road was made possible, in part, by CFRC’s participation in the Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP).
This statewide initiative supports NC Medicaid Managed Care members living in one of three pilot regions including Western North Carolina (WNC). CFRC provides infant formula, evidence-based parenting education, and home visiting services to eligible HOP participants. Pilot funding has enabled the organization to offset the costs associated with staffing and operating the GLO Mobile, building out the mobile resource library, and facilitating connections to additional HOP resources.
“It’s hard to talk about parenting if there is no food in the pantry and the lights aren’t on,” explains Jamie Weiner, CFRC’s executive director. “So we take care of that first.”
CFRC can connect families to pilot services that support access to food, housing, transportation, personal safety and healthy relationships. Often families have more than one need, which is why HOP uses a closed-loop referral system to ensure additional needs can be met through a network of more than 50 community-based organizations.
CFRC is currently the only organization in the WNC HOP network providing healthy meals for the pilot’s youngest participants – newborns and infants. Families who qualify can receive infant formula to help meet their babies’ daily dietary needs. This was especially helpful for Julia, who was unable to breastfeed her newborn child. To make matters worse, the specialized formula her baby needed was not readily available. She had to travel long distances to find it and was often unsuccessful.
After enrolling in the pilot, CFRC was able to provide Julia with a steady weekly supply of the formula her baby needed to thrive.
“HOP has taken away so much stress,” Julia recently shared. Now she can focus on other things that come with being a new mother, including taking good care of herself and her baby.
–Jamie Weiner, CFRC Executive director