Childhood Begins at Home campaign supports safety of Washington, Greene families

Child advocates, including Blueprints CEO Darlene J. Bigler, Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, and Pittsburgh neonatologist Dr. Robert Cicco, met Thursday to discuss a campaign promoting evidence-based home visiting programs and to champion an increase in the 2018-19 state budget to expand home visiting programs to additional Pennsylvania programs.

Childhood Begins at Home is a statewide campaign designed to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting as an effective way to support parents.

In Washington and Greene counties, families can benefit from home visiting programs that have been proven to improve maternal and child health, literacy and economic security, and reduce child abuse and neglect, said Bigler.

However, according to findings released by the Childhood Begins at Home Campaign, only one percent of Washington and Greene County children younger than 6, known to the child welfare system, received appropriate evidence-based home visiting services to reduce the likelihood of future child abuse and neglect last year.

Only one percent of Washington and Greene County babies born on Medicaid received the appropriate evidence-based home visiting services following their birth last year.

And only five percent of children living in low-income families and just 51 percent of children born to a mother without a high school diploma received evidence-based home visiting proven to improve family economic security and early literacy.

Childhood Begins at Home is advocating for a $6.5 million increase in the state budget to expand evidence-based home visiting to an additional 800 families, and to provide funds to improve staff training.

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The coalition is working to build successful families in Washington and Greene Counties, joining leaders for an event at Blueprints.

Back row: Lissa Geiger Shulman, Director of Public Policy, Trying Together; Brenda Fronzaglio, Director, Blueprints; state Senator Camera Bartolotta; and Leigh Carlson Hernandez, Office of Child Development, University of Pittsburgh.

Front row: Renee Cooper, Blueprints parent; Darlene Bigler, CEO of Blueprints; Joan Benso, president and CEO of PPC; and Dr. Robert Cicco, PPC board member, neonatologist and president of the Allegheny County Medical Society.

Childhood Begins at Home officially launches at an event at the Lancaster Women and Babies Hospital.

Back row:  State Representative Steven Mentzer; State Representative Brett Miller; State Representative Bryan Cutler; State Representative Mike Sturla; State Representative Keith Greiner; and Lancaster District Attorney Craig Stedman.

Front row: Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Shyanne Troop of Ephrata and her daughter; Mary Lee Steffy, manager of community health and wellness at Nurse-Family Partnership; and Theresa Whitesel, RN supervisor of Nurse-Family Partnership.

Family support advocates, including Chester County Maternal and Child Health Consortium (MCHC) executive director Milena Lanz and Bruce Clash, Pennsylvania State Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids at a Childhood Begins at Home campaign event at MCHC in West Chester.

Child advocates, including Delaware County Medical Society executive director David McKeighan, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children president and CEO Joan Benso and Maternity Care Coalition senior director of policy Rosemarie Halt at a Childhood Begins at Home campaign event at the Maternity Care Coalition in Upper Darby.