Lindsay Healthy Start was part of seven non-profits that initially received funding when First 5 launched in Tulare County in 1999. The program has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the community, Lindsay Unified School District and in alignment with First 5’s Strategic Plan. Lindsay Unified has fully integrated Healthy Start services into the district recognizing that early intervention will ultimately lead to better outcomes for children and when they start school they will be ready to learn. Lindsay Healthy Start’s mission is “Strengthening Lindsay Families through Integrated Collaborative Services.” We achieve this mission by providing comprehensive services including case management, parent education, resource and referral, home visitation, developmental screenings, and linkages to medical and mental health support. Services are offered to parents in our office, in their homes, and at their child’s school sites.
Lindsay Healthy Start Family Resource, launched as part of the California Healthy Start Initiative in 1992 under the California Department of Education. Designed initially to provide coordinated comprehensive and integrated school-community services and activities to improve the health and wellness of children and families. Services included coordinating and improving medical, dental, and health outcomes for children with linkages to mental health and substance abuse counseling for adolescents. Lindsay Healthy Start Family Resource continued to evolve under new funding streams from First 5 Tulare County, Office of Child Abuse Prevention, and Health and Human Services Agency which allowed for expansion of services. As a result, Healthy Start has been providing support services for the past 25 years!
Currently, Healthy Start forms part of Lindsay Unified School District. Lindsay Unified, which serves over 4,200 K-12 grade learners, is located in California’s agriculturally diverse San Joaquin Valley. Lindsay is a small, rural community known for its citrus orchards and olive groves. Home to a large population of immigrant families, Lindsay is characterized by a high percentage of families living below the federal poverty level, low levels of literacy in English, and low levels of parent education. Today, any of the district’s learners come from migrant families who work in the surrounding fields and production areas.
Families typically come to us via a referral from school sites, medical offices, and WIC but mostly from word of mouth. They may have a friend that successfully completed a program and they share their experiences of good results and they enroll. Outreach is also provided throughout the year via cold calls to clinics, attendance at community events, collaboration with school sites, afterschool programs and back to school nights.
First 5 funding has provided Healthy Start the ability to provide services targeted at children 0-5, pregnant teens, and parents. This includes in home parent curricula such as Safe Care, and Parenting Wisely which teaches parents about infant and child development and behaviors. For early education and connection to schools, Abriendo Puertas/Opening doors is provided to empower the parent's role as their child’s first educator and educational advocate.
Case Management provides a plan for parents to address challenges they are facing as a family with support built in for resource and referral to agencies who can meet their medical and mental health needs. Screening such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire are completed to assess for appropriate development milestones and Social/Emotional needs. Case Managers also collaborate with preschool sites to enroll children and support their COST Teams (Coordination of Services Team). During the summer months, Healthy Start provides a kindergarten boot camp called Little Lindsay Learner’s geared towards children who did not attend preschool to help them with basic skills needed such as developing comfort away from their parents, following directions, walking in lines, holding a pencil, and respect for personal space.
Parent Workshops around First 5 related topics have been offered throughout the years based on parent interest. Topics include: Breast Feeding, Early Infant Mental Health, Postpartum Depression/Baby Bonding, CPR/ First Aid, Early Literacy, and Father Involvement.
We would not be successful without the support of our collaborative partners who have helped us by providing a myriad of services at our agency and at our school sites. Our partners include Family Services of Tulare County, Kingsview, Tulare Youth Services Bureau, Omni Health, WIC, HHSA, Kaweah Delta Health Care District, Lindsay Police Department, Sierra View Hospital, TCOE Connections for Quality Care and the Tulare County FRC Network.
Mark and Nelly Martinez are a young couple that have previously accessed services through Lindsay FRC and have returned to initiate SafeCare IHPE with a new pregnancy. They have been involved at the FRC through various programs. Nelly has joined and is actively participating in Lindsay FRC’s PACE group as well as received training and certification for FTT (Families Talking Together). Benjamin is their 3-year-old preschooler with speech concerns. Mark and Nelly decided to participate in SafeCare, because they reported having positive outcomes with PCI module when Benjamin was a toddler. This period, when practicing PII skills during the earlier sessions, Case Manager was able to emphasize the importance of skin to skin contact and breastfeeding with both parents and infant. Immediately after the birth of baby Ellowyn, both parents actively practiced PII skills, which included skin to skin contact as well as breastfeeding, at Sierra View Hospital in Porterville. As a result, nurses and staff were impressed with the skills parents demonstrated that the hospital offered them an amazing opportunity. They were chosen to participate in Sierra View Hospital's "revamp" of their lactation unit/ skin to skin program. They provided Nelly with a "photo shoot" promoting both breastfeeding and skin to skin contact. One of the images was chosen to be displayed on a banner in the hospital, but also will be used on other media.
Also during this period, Benjamin was observed in the preschool setting. Learning Facilitators suggested he be evaluated for speech in the following school year. They suggested parents work with Benjamin on reading over the summer break. As Case Manager facilitated PII SafeCare module, Case Manager was able to include some activities with Benjamin to help with his reading skills. Mark and Nelly used “Three Letter Word” flashcards which were provided by the FRC. Typically, one parent would practice PCI with Benjamin, while the other practiced PII skills with now 2-month-old baby Ellowyn. The dual participation of parents as well as combination of sessions has provided positive outcomes for this family. During sessions, Case Manager observed parents successfully use PII skills with Ellowyn when she began to respond in sound patterns during imitating periods! Mark and Nelly were excited to see their interaction efforts go such a long way. Also, Benjamin is now able to sound out/ read words such as: Dog, Cat, Green, and Salami. Benjamin loves to read books with his parents!
This family’s success has been made possible mainly due to their willingness to participate in any program that they feel would benefit their family. This is also the reason they are so heavily involved with Lindsay FRC. Both parents are extremely committed to bettering their family. They do not shy away from asking for and/or receiving services. These parents are tenacious in implementing skills they’ve acquired along the way. With the help of our entire FRC staff, this family has been able to access a variety of services that have proven positive outcomes. They are great advocates within our community for Lindsay FRC.
With the success of any family or individual, there is great collaboration with other agencies. In the case of the Martinez family, multiple agencies contributed to their success. First and foremost, the involvement of preschool staff and Learning Facilitators contributed to the forming of a service plan with the FRC. Case Manager will now guide and support the family through the process of evaluation for speech services for Benjamin. The involvement of the PACE group was also essential for this family’s success. PACE provided a plethora of informative topics such as: Early Mental Health and Postpartum Depression and access to Special Needs Services. Nelly also helped in organizing events for this group in turn keeping her busy through her pregnancy. Lastly, Sierra View Hospital confirmed to the Martinez family that the skills Mark and Nelly acquired through SafeCare are an essential part of daily interaction with their infant. This family’s hard work and dedication to positively influence their children’s has been made possible through their participation as well as local and outside agencies.