May 14, 2020
Case managers at Safe Babies Healthy Families (SBHF), an Easterseals Southeast Wisconsin program, work every day with families to increase school readiness and improve parenting practices. Ideally staff meet with children where they spend the majority of their early years – at home. “In-home services are a core part of our service model, but our staff and families have done a great job transitioning to telehealth during the pandemic,” says Karen Villarreal, the program manager.
Video conferencing and phone calls are great for routine check-ins, but technology can’t replace the one-on-one interaction between the case managers, parents, and the babies and toddlers in the program. One creative solution for solving that problem is a kit for families.
“Our staff still wanted to make sure our families had really critical developmental toys and other materials they could use during our teleconferences,” Karen explains. A few days per week, case managers operate in shifts of two to three people to pack hundreds of tote bags full of blocks, puzzles, and books for families. They drop them off on each clients’ doorstep.
“Families have been thrilled. We’re getting emails and texts almost daily about how much they love the bags,” says Safe Babies Case Manager, Kendra Kornowski. “Some toys may not seem like a big deal, but playing, reading, and basic interaction is really important for healthy cognitive and motor skills in kids.”
The Safe Babies Healthy Families program provides early detection of developmental delays and other health problems, increases parents’ knowledge of early childhood development, improves parenting practices, and increases children’s school readiness and success. Preferably, parents enter the program during pregnancy and can remain until their child is kindergarten ready.
“Many of our parents have endured remarkable hardships. They are working really hard with our case managers to change the future for the better to help their kids,” Karen says.