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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is pushing a prevention program for young and low-income moms. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.
The Building Blocks program is for low-income women pregnant with their first child.
It allows them to have regular visits from a local nurse during the child’s first two years.
The nurse teaches the soon-to-be moms about child health and safety, and how to cope with the stresses that come with parenting.
Karen Schenk is a public health nurse for the Department of Health and Senior Services.
“Babies don’t come with manuals to teach you how to take care of them and many of these women are teen moms who need assistance. Maybe they haven’t been parented quite appropriately, so they need education on how to parent their child appropriately,” Schenk said.
Right now, this program is only available in St. Louis, Kansas City, Cape Girardeau and in several other states.
It was available in Springfield, but due to funding, the program was eliminated here.
Schenk says the program receives new mom referrals from prenatal care providers, health insurers and schools.
“Not only does it help prevent child abuse and neglect, but it decreases the number of women who smoke during pregnancy, decreases the use of alcohol and other drugs. It provides them with better parenting skills, so that the children are more prepared to enter school. It helps to get women off welfare and get them jobs, get them education and get them other resources,” Schenk said.
She says for every dollar put into this program, it ultimately saves tax payers four dollars, because the women learn to be self-sufficient and they don’t rely on other government programs.
For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.