West Virginia Certified HUG Teacher Incorporates The HUG with Early Head Start Services!

Crystal Pelfrey, MA is a Health and Wellness Specialist at  the Southwestern Community Action Council, Early Head Start program in Huntington, West Virginia. Early Head Start (EHS) is a federally funded community-based program for low-income families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women. Chrystal has brought more of the HUG Your Baby training and resources to her county than to any other county in the USA! She must have good reasons to spend time and money on The HUG. Here she describes the remarkable way she uses HUG Your Baby with high risks families in her community.

The mission of Early Head Start's mission is:
  • to promote healthy prenatal outcomes for pregnant women,
  • to enhance the development of very young children, and
  • to promote healthy family functioning.
The program for which I work provides prenatal services to teens, incarcerated women and low income women as well as their families. We also provide child care in a high school setting for teen parents, parenting education and support to incarcerated women with children birth to age three and their families.  In addition, we provide home base services as well as center base services to low income families. In total we provide services to 134 families.

Bringing The HUG to her community:
The HUG Your Baby program is being a great addition to the resources/parent education materials we are currently using. At this time 4 Early Head Start Staff are working on becoming Certified HUG Teachers.   It is my goal to have all our staff who work with prenatal families and families young infants to complete the certification process.
How I plan to use the HUG program?
One of the Early Head Start requirements is providing a newborn visit by health staff within 2 weeks of the birth of the baby to ensure the well-being of the mother and the child. During this visit I cover topics such as newborn care, feeding, SIDS, Shaken Baby Syndrome, EPSDT Health Checks, car seat safety, postpartum depression, and child development. I now plan to make The HUG part of my newborn visit as well.

Parent input:
I chose to do the first parent visit with a teen parent and the second parent visit with a pregnant incarcerated woman. At the end of the session I asked each parent what they thought of the program and the materials. The teen parent stated,  "I didn't that expect my baby to do so much as a newborn." She was amazed at all he could do. She liked the video and materials. She felt it would be very helpful for parents with babies that cry alot. She suggested that Early Head Start cover this material before the baby is born.

The pregnant incarcerated mom said she really liked the strategies suggested and feels this information will be helpful once her baby arrives. She also said she would like to see the video again after the baby is born. She added that " The HUG would be helpful to all pregnant women enrolled in the Early Head Start Program."

Staff input:
I taught a HUG Your Baby overview class to 5 infant/toddler teachers that work in Early Head Start classrooms at two local high schools. These teachers provide services to teen parents and their children.

For the final activity of the overview session I asked participates to work together in groups and discuss how using these materials could benefit the families enrolled in their program.

3 participants stated that the materials would have been useful to them when their children were infants
While watching the section of the DVD on “calming your baby”,  one participant exclaimed that "this is a miracle!"
All participates stated that the HUG your baby information would benefit the parents/families enrolled in their programs.

Crystal promises to keep The HUG community up-to-date on the power of "Giving a HUG" in West Virginia!