Home Visiting on the Front Lines
As part of an effort to show how home visiting is helping vulnerable families during this time, Families Forward Virginia is interviewing Home Visitors across Virginia. We're asking them how their programs have changed and what their families need.
Beverly McQuarry: Suffolk and Isle of Wight
Being pregnant can be stressful even in the best of times. Beverly McQuarry helps new and expectant mothers in Suffolk and Isle of Wight as Team Supervisor for a Home Visiting program called Healthy Families. Home visiting is a proven prevention strategy for delivering family-strengthening services to children and parents.
Beverly and her team serve roughly 60 families over the course of a year in Suffolk and Isle of Wight by helping children receive nurturing care from their family so they can lead a healthy, long and successful life. Her home visiting team offers families a variety of services such as screenings for maternal depression, developmental delays and other health risks, parent support and education, connecting families to needed services such as early childhood education, early intervention services, health care, housing and food assistance.
Since the pandemic began, Beverly and her team have actually enrolled nine additional Moms into their program. They're still trying to do the same things, but now they're doing visits over the phone. It's difficult to not be able to physically visit the parents and children because of the strong relationships the home visitors have with families. Typically, the home visitors start visiting families weekly for at least the first six months. Then they switch to seeing families twice a month, then eventually once a quarter. Beverly and her team keep seeing families until their children are 5 years old.
Home visitors are still helping families meet their needs. They are staying in touch through telehealth visits and mailing packets of materials with curricula and activities for the children. They are continuing to make referrals to community resources. When needed, Beverly and her team drop off supplies at the families' front doors such as pack 'n plays, diapers and other items. They're also making sure that families are still going to the doctor for well checks and other preventative health care. Beverly and her team were able to comfort some parents who were nervous about going to the doctor during a pandemic. They're making sure that children are getting their immunizations and check-ups.
In the meantime, Beverly and her team of home visitors are continuing to serve the most vulnerable parents and children in Suffolk and Isle of Wight.