It’s not news to us that Austin is growing at an astounding rate, with more than 150 people moving here daily. But there are other challenges that come with rapid growth, besides the traffic. A large number of those newcomers are moving here for job opportunities, and often early in their careers. This strong flow of young transplants means that many people living in Austin are far from their traditional support structures such as family and friends. When they start their own families in Austin, they’re unlikely to have access to the helpful community they’re used to leaning on.
The first few days and weeks home with a new baby can be a challenging time for all families. Research shows that 95 percent of families can use some additional support, whether its support with breastfeeding, mental health services for moms or dads experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety or resources to help siblings or other family members adjust to life with a newborn. United Way for Greater Austin is launching a program that helps families navigate this difficult time and ensure the newest addition to their family is thriving in a healthy and safe environment.
Texas Family Connects – Travis County is a voluntary, evidence-based, community-wide nurse resource and referral program that provides at least one home visit for every family from Austin/Travis County with a newborn. This partnership between United Way and Austin Public Health will begin serving families with births at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center in September of this year and will ultimately scale to serve the entire county.
“What we’re really hoping to do is change the whole culture around supporting children in Texas and valuing them from day one by supporting families with a nurse home visit,” Shalyn Bravens, Director of Family Connects and MIECHV said. “This way to get new families connected to resources right away if they have any needs.”
St. David’s Foundation has identified child resilience as a strategic priority and just announced grants totaling almost $8 million to support child resilience efforts across the Central Texas community. The goal with these grants is to partner with area nonprofits to help foster the development of programs and policies that prevent adversity and build resiliency at the individual, family, and community level. They have awarded $575,656 to United Way to support the Texas Family Connects – Travis County program.
Texas Family Connects is the perfect fit and natural next step in United Way’s mission to fight poverty. The program is intended to serve all families to create a community culture that values and supports families and children from day one. This approach allows us to identify ways to support families in small and large ways at the earliest stage and connect them with the resources they need to ensure their child’s resilience.
Research shows participation in this program leads to greater community connections for families, higher-quality parenting behaviors, enhanced home environments, improved maternal health and reductions in health care expenses. A randomized control trial in Durham, North Carolina, where the program was founded, showed the program had a significant impact:
- Families reported 15 percent more connections to community resources
- Mothers were 28 percent less likely to report symptoms of anxiety
- Infants experienced 34 percent less emergency medical care at six months and 50 percent less at 12 months
- For every $1 invested there were $3 in health care cost savings
- After five years, participating families had 39 percent fewer Child Protective Services investigations
Texas Family Connects – Travis County is part of the Success By 6 initiative, a community-wide collaborative working to ensure all children enter kindergarten healthy, happy and ready to succeed in school and life.
“Healthy babies become healthy children and healthy children become healthy adults,” David C. Smith, United Way for Greater Austin CEO said. “Family Connects is a proven model that shows, again, when we invest early on, we set families up for success which is the beginning of the cycle of a truly thriving community.”
Additional information & press:
- Community Impact: St. David’s Foundation delivers $29.9M in grant funding to area nonprofits
- KVUE: Texas struggles to meet children’s needs, report shows
- Texas Family Connects: https://www.familyconnectstexas.org/