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The Columbia Press

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Program takes aim at ensuring healthier newborns

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Families in Clatsop County and seven other areas of the state will be among the first given an option of receiving nurse home visits after the birth of a child.

The new statewide initiative, called Family Connects, is the result of Senate Bill 526, which was passed by the state legislature last year.

The eight “early-adopter communities” are part of the Oregon Health Authority’s debut of a program that eventually will become nationwide. Family Connects is a voluntary, evidence-based model that supports children and families at a critical time: a child’s birth, program leaders say.

Family Connects Oregon identifies what families want from local resources, and then provides an individualized path into an array of community services. The system includes referrals to other, more established home visiting programs that are eligibility-based rather than universally offered to all, as the comprehensive Family Connects program will be.

Services are intended to make improvements in child health, child development, school readiness, family economic self-sufficiency, maternal health, positive parenting, and the reduction of juvenile delinquency, family violence, and crime.

Oregon Health Authority was tasked with overseeing the program of providing nurse home visits to all families with newborns living in the state.

The eight agencies first to begin the program are Clatsop County Department of Public Health, Eastern Oregon Early Learning Hub, Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon, Four Rivers Early Learning Hub, Lane County Health and Human Services, Early Learning Hub of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties, Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub, and Washington County Public Health.

“We want Oregon to be the best place in the country to have and raise a child,” said Cate Wilcox, manager of the Maternal and Child Health Section at the OHA Public Health Division.

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