RONAN — Listening to young parents’ concerns and guiding them with their little ones’ development and care while offering a huge support system is the foundation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Early Foundations Home Visiting program.
“We are not here to judge them (parents), but to show them resources, and offer fun activities with their children,” said CSKT EFHV Program Director Rhea Pierre.
“The main purpose of our program is encouraging interactions between the child and their caregivers through activities and parent education. We want to see the caregivers leave our program with knowledge of their child’s development and how they can support that development at home,” said Pierre.
The program curriculum allows parents to be the leader of the activities. “We hope that they will pull those skills out at a later time to continue to help their child develop." Pierre said the activities usually use items parents already have on hand at their home.
In its eighth year, the EFHV program is funded by the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting grant and staffs four home visiting coaches. Up to 56 spots were available for service in the program with some still open.
Home Visiting mentors
Lona Boushie, EFHV team parenting mentor says the teams’ goals in the two years of mentoring families is to help parents become self-sufficient whether it’s helping them complete the HiSET, enroll in college, find a job, or whatever their goal might be.
First in order of the curriculum program is to help families become healthier and wiser.
“I like seeing parents become more confident in parenting their child and seeing them be a happy healthy family with all their needs met,” said Boushie. Some day-to-day lessons for parents include tasks like: baby-proof their home; work on kindergarten readiness skills; and early intervention.
ECHV team member Felicia Paul said she adds a different view for the parents. “Sometimes I just listen to what they are struggling with and come up with ways to help them figure it out for themselves.” Paul says the program is important in sending the message to young parents that they have a support when parenting. “I love working with families that I work with; watching them grow and have a better understanding about children growth and development,” said Paul.
Marilyn Caye, another ECHV team mentor, says it’s her passion to work with young parents and families. Caye has worked in the education field for 40 years that she says can add to her guidance to the families. Caye says she can share her stories with the parents. “Sometime as a single parent, I also had ups and downs and had people to support me; and now I am here to support them.”
Caye says by going to the family’s communities, it enforces the belief that community is vital to a child’s growth. “It is showing our families their community is important and it is a part of them,” said Caye.
Dawna Jo Calflooking, ECHV team member describes the program as “front line work.” She said the Home Visiting program focus in on the child or children.
“I have witnessed individual home visitors go above and beyond the call of duty to help their families with service needs, by assisting and searching for community resources to what the family needs at the time,” said Calflooking. An example is if a family needed a bed, food, or if they were homeless, the Home Visitors will search and refer the family to a program or place that can assist in their needs.
“I have seen the Parent Educators beam with pride as their families reach their goal. I have seen them struggle when they hit a roadblock when they are unable to help the families if they are in crisis; when they have tried all they know. I have seen them celebrate with the families that have completed our program after two years. This team is invested in the betterment of the families on our Reservation. They are a good source of knowledge and resource connections for the families we work with. They are compassionate and they take their commitment to educating these families seriously,” said Pierre.
Calflooking added her team are always on the move with new ideas to educate young parents to be productive. “They are appreciated more then they know.”
For information on how to enroll in the Early Childhood Home Visiting Program contact Rhea Pierre at (406) 675-2700, ext. 6122.