The First Steps program is a parenting support and resource program for younger families that deliver at United Hospital. This program began as a community partnership between the hospital and Children’s Hospital Association. They serve between 200 and 230 teen-parenting families each year. The First Steps program is almost entirely grant funded by Children’s Hospital Association.
As a hospital prevention program, First Steps provides phone support, community resource referrals and programming for teen parenting families. Their assistance includes positive parenting support, information about community programs, check in calls to families considered at higher risk for child abuse situations, including issues with postpartum depression, or who might not have a good network for parenting support. In 2013, they introduced text communication with First Steps parents. This has enabled them to reach the young families they serve more efficiently and follow up on their questions more easily.
First Steps also hosts in-person events and programs to support positive parenting behaviors and peer-to-peer networking opportunities for the teen-parents families that deliver at United Hospital. Their in-person events feature such topics as family play, literacy, nutrition, science and nature activities and music. They also target subjects such as child abuse prevention, where to find parenting support in stressful situations and distribute community resources.
The teen parent population is faced with many hardships -- they often have self-esteem issues, are struggling single parents or on public assistance programs. Many are trying to be good parents while also grappling with tough school schedules and low-paying jobs. Some have the support of extended family and/or a partner and some are completely on their own. Through the First Steps program they work hard to make sure that all of the younger families that deliver at our hospitals receive the positive parenting support they need to be successful family leaders.