Greenwich-based Family Centers unveils new parenting program

GREENWICH — Family Centers is offering a free program to help at-risk first-time parents get off to a good start with their new baby.

The Greenwich-based human services agency is introducing “Minding the Baby,” designed to help parents in Greenwich and Stamford develop strong family bonds.

The program, piloted in New Haven, was developed at Yale University’s Child Study Center and its School of Nursing.

“There is a lot of focus now on helping people get a good start in life,” Leslie Sexer, Family Centers’ vice president, said. “If you get that good start, then you are in a better position for so many other things to fall in place for a successful life. It’s very important for us to help people get off on a good path and that’s what this program does.”

The program, which is designed as a preventative, interdisciplinary assistance to first-time parents, includes home visits to help new moms and dads establish early and positive bonds with their babies. The visits focus on both maternal and child health, on parent-infant attachment and include developmental guidance and parenting support.

The effort is meant to focus on at-risk parents who might not have any other help and feel overwhelmed. Making sure the new mothers bond with their babies is a critical goal of the program.

Sexer said among the reasons an attachment might not take place are past trauma, youth of the mother, mental health issues and poverty.

Right now, three families are signed up. The program can accommodate 12.

Home visits are done by a registered nurse and a social worker weekly until the child’s first birthday; they become bi-weekly after that until the child’s second birthday.

Sexer said 13 years of work from Yale went into developing “Minding the Baby.”

“We want to be with them while they’re pregnant and there for them after the baby is born,” said Merritt Juliano, Family Center’s clinical social worker. “We want to make sure they…

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