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Public health program proving beneficial

Falon Nickerson spends time with her five-month-old daughter Kally. For the past several months Nickerson has been participating in the Healthy Beginnings Enhanced Home Visiting Program offered by Public Health through a referral process.
Falon Nickerson spends time with her five-month-old daughter Kally. For the past several months Nickerson has been participating in the Healthy Beginnings Enhanced Home Visiting Program offered by Public Health through a referral process. - Kathy Johnson

CAPE SABLE ISLAND - A home-visiting program offered by Nova Scotia Public Health to new moms through a referral process is proving to be very beneficial.
Falon Nickerson of Cape Sable Island is one of those experiencing the benefits. Since starting the Healthy Beginnings: Enhanced Home Visiting program in September, Nickerson has been visited once a week by program community home visitor Kim Arcon, one of four in the tri-county area.
“Kim has been great,” said Nickerson. “She has really helped me with a lot of useful parenting skills. She is very kind, understanding and helpful. I believe this is very important in our community. I also believe it takes a very special person to go to several homes a day each week. She is wonderful at her job and defiantly deserves to be recognized for what she does.”
Nickerson said the positive support and confidence-building she receives from Arcon has inspired her to start a baby group with some friends.
“I had no intention of doing such a thing,” she said.  Utilizing the curriculum of the Growing Great Kids program, Arcon has also provided good advice that has helped with the little things that comes with raising a baby as well as a toddler, said Nickerson.
“She gives me the reassurance she’s (the baby) growing, doing okay getting and everything she needs,” said Nickerson.
The Healthy Beginnings Enhanced Home Visiting Program focuses on supporting parents, promoting a healthy parent-child relationship, fostering healthy childhood development and linking families with community resources that further enhance the opportunities for healthy growth and development of the child and the family.
The program is offered to families from pre-natal until the age of three, after a referral is made by a public health nurse. “One of roles of a public health nurse is to find out what kind of support all new moms may need before leaving hospital,” said Arcon. “Some moms go home and are absolutely fine. Others go home and the referral is made to help support them.”
That support can come from a variety of resources, including families resource centers. The overall goal is to “help build parenting confidence, and build their knowledge and skill around child development and parenting,” said Arcon.
Arcon said the community home visitors are trained to facilitate the Growing Great Kids program, which has a focus of supporting child development. “The biggest piece of it focuses on supporting that parent and child interaction and relationship that is so important,” said Arcon. “That is the first relationship that a baby is going to have and is the relationship that they are going to build all other relationships on throughout life.”
The program teaches parenting in a positive way, said Arcon.
“When you are in the moment of raising a baby and a toddler its extremely stressful so sometimes we are there to offer an ear and understanding to try to build that parenting confidence.”
Arcon said the family resource centers in the tri-counties are a great resource available to all parents and young families, who are more than welcome to participate in any of the programs offered. In Shelburne County, the King Street Family Resource Center in Shelburne offers outreach programs into the county. Parents Place is the family resource center in Yarmouth. In Digby there is the Digby County Family Resource Centre.

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