The Building Healthy Children program for at-risk teen mothers has been chosen as the recipient of the 2011 Greater Rochester Impact Award. Sponsored by the Rochester Business Journal and the United Way of Greater Rochester, the annual honor recognizes community programs that demonstrate "measurable, positive results."
Building Healthy Children provides comprehensive support to young moms in the Rochester community to assist them in starting their families on a positive path. The program helps mothers overcome challenges such as poverty, depression, domestic violence, or a history of abuse that may place their children at increased risk for maltreatment, emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, or ultimately foster care.
The innovative program brings together the expertise of four area institutions: Mt. Hope Family Center, Strong Pediatrics, the Society for Protection and Care of Children, and Strong Social Work. Working in close collaboration, paraprofessionals, social workers, psychologists, and medical personnel reach out to young mothers with interventions that have been proven effective. The program provides parenting education, parent-child attachment therapy, and treatment for depression, along with food, housing support, and transportation for up to three years. Funded by the Monroe County Department of Human Services and United Way, Building Healthy Children is one of 17 evidence-based home visitation programs nationwide recognized by the U.S. Children's Bureau.
Now in its fourth year, the program has offered support to 350 young mothers like Dominique White, whose difficult childhood and early pregnancy could easily have derailed her ability to parent. Instead, today White is on her way to a career in human services at Monroe Community College and has a secure and loving relationship with her three-year-old daughter, Naomi, one that she credits to the personal development she has undergone with the support of the program.
"I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for this place," she told a City newspaper reporter in 2010. "You know what they say about generations, and how it just keeps going? No more. I'm breaking the cycle right now. I will not have that kind of life for her."
The Impact Award is sponsored by the Bank of America. This year's awards honor three organizations and 15 individuals, including Andrea L. DeMeo, executive director and chief operating officer for the Center for Community Health and director of the University's annual United Way campaign. The award recipients will be honored on October 18 during a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Rochester.