Pictured: Sarah Biron and her husband Chris, daughter Aubrey and son Quinten
The work of the Monadnock Home Visiting Alliance (MHVA) is continuing to impact lives in the region. The pilot collective impact initiative launched last year is working to expand its reach, thanks in part to a recent $51,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
The MHVA is composed of Home Healthcare Hospice & Community Services (HCS) Healthy Starts, The Grapevine Family and Community Resource Center, Rise for baby and family and The River Center Family and Community Resource Center. MUW’s Impact Monadnock provides professional support for the alliance.
Home visiting has been considered an effective form of early intervention, and services include anything from speech therapy to breastfeeding assistance to parenting tips.
Below, two Monadnock-region mothers share how home visiting services have impacted their families
Sarah Biron, from Milford, has worked with a home visitor since she was pregnant with her first child. Over the last several years, Biron said she has gained a lot of knowledge from these visits.
Biron’s home visitor, from The River Center, gave her prenatal information and parenting advice, and provided resources about developmental milestones for her children.
“Being a stay at home mom is a lot of work,” Biron said. “My home visitor makes me feel like I’m not alone.”
Biron’s oldest daughter is now 3, and she also has an 1-year-old son.
“It has helped me to be able to talk to somebody about my kids, and what is going on with them,” she said. “It is really great to have someone to answer the questions you have and help with the kids.”
Biron’s home visitor visits her family every other week.
The home visitor has also directly helped Biron’s children, including in social and emotional ways. One of the referrals she made was to a mom’s group that allows her children to socialize.
Biron said home visitors can help in a multitude of ways, and she hopes all families get to experience this service.
Mariah Johnson has also benefitted from home visiting.
Johnson is not from Keene. The New York transplant didn’t have friends or family here. Her fiancé’s job has him on the road a lot, so he’s not able to help much with the children during the day. So when her youngest son was born premature, she felt overwhelmed.
But for the last two years, since his birth, Johnson has been receiving home visits from Home Healthcare Hospice & Community Services’ Healthy Starts program.
“For me, it fills the void of not having any support system in a town,” Johnson said of the home visiting service.
Johnson was first referred to HCS while her son was still in the NICU at a Boston hospital. After he left the hospital, a visiting nurse came to Johnson’s home once or twice a week.
As her son grew, her needs changed, and visits are now down to once or twice a month.
A home visitor has helped with everything from offering breastfeeding assistance, checking on Johnson’s mental health and playing with the children while Johnson made phone calls. When Johnson faced a hurdle in transferring her driver’s license from one state to another, and her license lapsed, the home visitor took Johnson and her children to doctor appointments.
“She made sure that everything…was held together,” she said.
Johnson said she wishes she knew about home visiting services when her older children were born.
“They’re just a really great tool and great way to find services,” she said. “Whether you think you might need help or not, a home visitor is someone who is always in your corner, who advocates for you.”