Lynchburg, VA - Nothing can prepare you for being a parent, but in the Lynchburg area there's a program available that helps you not only prepare for your child -- but get him through the first years of life on the right foot.
The Healthy Families program is helping mom Tabitha Smith.
"Life changes really quickly," Smith said.
Smith found that out pretty quickly when she had little Tyler.
"You don't know everything," Smith explained. "You can read every parenting book, but sometimes that little extra information can help you along the way."
This single mom got that extra information, and a lot of support through the Healthy Families program at the Presbyterian Homes and Family Service and Family Alliance.
Alex Johnston has been working with Smith since she was seven months pregnant. At the time, Smith was living in transitional housing and didn't have a place to turn to with questions about her pregnancy and having a new baby.
Johnston has been there to fill in the gaps.
"As new parents often time they have questions like, ‘Is this normal he is doing this?' Having that support to pick up the phone and say I had a quick question about this what do you think," Johnston said. " Then we can go into the home and provide info and activities and information to strengthen their development in those areas."
It's a relationship that will last until Tyler is 5.
"It has been an extension of my family," Smith said. "I send Alex pictures of him all the time. I text her and am like, "this is what he's doing today."
"It's personally exciting for me to watch parents interact with their kids in a positive way and see that all parents do have the ability to be great, wonderful and supportive parents."
Smith now has a job and she's living with Tyler in their own home. She's come a long way since the time she found out she was pregnant.
"Don't give up and do reach out," Smith said.
You only have to look at the numbers to see how Healthy Families Virginia is working. Some of Healthy Families Central Virginia's most impressive outcomes from fiscal year 7/11-6/12 are:
Our official report from the CPS State Registry is still pending, but by our reports, we had no founded child abuse/neglect on families receiving over 12 months of services.
For more information on the program, check out their website.