Partnering with Physicians to Address Holistic Family Wellness in Southern AZ

The rural town of Douglas, AZ sits directly at the border of Mexico - its twin city, Agua Prieta, lies just over the border fence. This is just one of the many areas that Child & Family Resources (CFR) is significantly making an impact across the state of Arizona. In this area, the teen pregnancy rate is significantly higher than the national average and upwards of 80% of the population lives at or below the poverty level with minimal resources available in the community. Child & Family Resources’ home visitation services, using the proven Healthy Families model, has been serving families in Douglas for many years.

In the last year, CFR’s Family Support Specialist Brandi Samaniego, who serves and also lives in Douglas, began developing a relationship with local pediatricians Dr. Darlene Melk and Dr. Jeffrey Holzberg. Since this is a rural community clinic, and seeing that the people of the community have few local resources, the doctors recognized that additional services were necessary to meet the needs of their patients. Initially begun as a project to improve well-child-check completion rates, a program designed to check up on the child’s welfare, CFR soon discovered that the doctors, who work at Chiricahua Community Health Centers, were interested in learning more about home-visitation. After shadowing seven home visits, the two pediatricians were convinced that their own service to families were lacking critical components of care that were highly achievable through home-visitation. CFR’s Healthy Families program offers parents the opportunity to gain access to education, information, and activities that could help them optimize the early development of their child on a more frequent and regular basis. The doctors were astonished at the warm, strength-based relationship between the home visitor and the families she served. They also admired the quality and quantity of research-backed information and evidence-based curriculum that CFR presented in the home. Every family was engaged and excited to learn about ways to optimize their baby’s development!

This initial project gave way to action as the Chiricahua clinic doctors began to explore the possibility of partnering with not just Child & Family Resources, but three additional home visiting programs in the community. After several collaborative meetings, Chiricahua extended an invitation for Child & Family Resources and other agencies to begin attending their innovative, two-week, well-child-check appointments. The well-child-check program established by Dr. Darlene Melk and Dr. Jeffrey Holzberg is highly innovative. These are multi-family visits with the same set of families scheduled to meet together for all well-child-checkup appointments throughout the first year of life of the child. In addition to typical check-ups in a clinic environment, each family will also receive a personal visit from one of the two doctors in their home at 2 months and at 9 months. This uniquely personal feature was inspired by CFR’s Healthy Families’ home-visitation program. By following this proven model, the physicians be able to make a more personal connection with each family, and gain a better understanding for areas the family may need more assistance or referrals to community resources.

The very first two-hour-long appointment took place on November 8th at Chiricahua’s brand new Early Childhood Center for Excellence clinic. Families experienced high-quality medical care, an opportunity to bond with other families with new babies in their local community, and an enthusiastic presentation by Child & Family Resources own Brandi Samaniego. Families received flyers describing the benefits of participation in the Healthy Families program. The families participated in several activities that are utilized in the Healthy Families program, including Character Builders and Empathy Parenting. Parents also gained access to parenting strategies to enhance their child’s development.

Child & Family Resources is excited to be involved in this progressive, new approach to medically/socially integrative care for families. Program Supervisor Rebecca Hetherington is excited that a medical clinic sees the value of CFR’s home-visitation services as a means to promote the health and well-being of families. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial collaboration with Chiricahua Community Health Centers! CFR is making strides to ensure this integrative model garners attention and launches in other locations aspiring to fortify the quality of total family care. Child & Family Resources is committed to incorporating this model throughout our agency in the years to come in order to change the landscape of health and wellness in Arizona.

With your support, we will build strong communities where children can reach their full potential!