Every child deserves a chance to grow up to realize his or her full potential. While all parents face numerous challenges along the way, some are lucky to have extensive networks of family and friends to help guide them on their parenting journey. On the other hand, others have far fewer resources. For those families, Family Network is the safety net available for many first-time parents in our area.
Family Network is a non-profit corporation that began inaugural home visits in July 1995 with the vision of healthy children being raised in nurturing homes. Their mission is to meet the needs of families in Northwest Arkansas by providing individualized parenting education and family support prior to the birth of and during the first three to five years of a child’s life. To invest in healthy families so that children experience positive, nurturing environments in those most critical first three years of life is the greatest investment a community can have.
Family Network’s Healthy Families America home visitation program improves the health and social functioning of first-time mothers, their babies, and their families. Parent educators work intensively to empower young women to provide a healthy, nurturing, and stimulating environment for their children; create positive family relationships; and develop personal, educational, and vocational skills that lead to a more productive life for the mother herself.
Here are some key findings that demonstrate the effectiveness of the Family Network programs:
- High completion rates for teen parents from high school
- More consistent use of job training opportunities
- Higher employment rates
- Lower welfare use
- More use of positive discipline with less need to punish their children
- Significantly reduced rate of child abuse
- More consistent use of primary care health services
- Less required use of emergency room
- Increased capacity of parents to care for the child
- Fewer accidents among children
- Fewer pregnancies
- Greater spacing between birth of subsequent children
Currently, Family Network offers in-home prenatal and parenting education with families (often single or teen mothers) using evidence-based curriculum. The organization also offers information and referrals to community resources for enrolled families as well as educational and support groups for enrolled parents. In addition, field placement is available for students in Human Development and Family Studies, Social Work, or Counselor Education. Family Network is a strong advocate for families by participating in local, statewide, and national organizations.
The programs available through Family Network are made by partnering with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, United Way of Northwest Arkansas, and the Bank of America Foundation. The support of corporate, philanthropic, and university organizations, and individual donors is enhanced by fundraising events which are invaluable for additional program expenses.
The group’s popular fundraiser, Family Foto Fest, is in its fourteenth year. This event takes place annually in the fall and provides outdoor family portraits by professional photographers with all session fees paid by the participants given as a donation to the organization. It is only through the generous support of our community that program services can help families break cycles of low-educational achievement, poverty, and abuse.