eastern mainMaine Voices: Keep home visits in the state budget to keep milies healthy

Our thinking is that if we can "get it right" for these innts and milies, then there will be a system of care in place for other innts who are high-risk, whether the risk ctor is prematurity, disability, poverty or opiate exposure.

BANGOR – Time is running out for the Legislature to reinstate Maine Families Home Visiting into the 2012 state budget.

"Across the country states are struggling to balance their budgets. When decisions, legislators and governors must consider the evidence for cost saving that is behind programs like Maine Families as well as the vital role that your home visiting program has in the system of care that is required to support and care for our peeastern maine healthdiatric population, especially those at highest risk.

He is professor of pediatrics, emeritus, at Harvard Medical School and founder of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center.

I have personally worked with Maine Families with a particular focus on the high-risk milies whose innts are born after prenatal opiate exposure. Eliminating the funding for Maine Families is counterintuitive to improving the health of our next generation in Maine.

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First, some background about Dr. Brazelton is in order. He has been in pediatrics for more than 50 years. He is a renowned pediatrician and author known worldwide for his contributions to parents and the science of raising emotionally and physically healthy children.

Unfortunately, if funding is taken away, it will have a long-lasting and profoundly negative effect.

Again, the pivotal role that home visitors play is underscored as we move these innts and milies into a receptive system of care and keep them engaged.

"I know from long experience that healthy, well-cared for children present our nations best bet for a productive future. Hence, I hope that Maine people and their legislators will lead the way again and continue to make this prudent investment in the future of your children."

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Maine Families is a cost-effective way for keeping high-risk, disadvantaged milies and their innts engaged in a system of health care.

"The Maine Families Home Visitation Program has become a crucial component of the home visiting continuum of services in Maine, addressing the social and developmental needs of new parents and their children.

In his letter, he wrote about his Maine experience: "For the past four and a half years we have worked intensely with state and community based providers in your state so that over 100 home visitors from the Maine Families Program can enhance their practice and provide the kind of support and information that parents crave.

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"Independent evaluation of the Maine Families Program demonstrates the effectiveness of the program to reduce preventable injury and illness and assist milies to reach financial independence.

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More than 30 years ago, home visiting was demeastern mainMaine Voices: Keep home visits in the state budget to keep milies healthyonstrated by David Olds, Ph.D., to help young women take better care of themselves and their babies. It is the most efficient and effective way to work with milies around parenting, risk reduction, and building healthier children.

It was very significant to have Dr. Brazelton speak up about the importance of keeping the Maine Families Home Visiting program for Maine.

"When parents have the opportunity to develop a relationship with a caring professional and understand the individual roadmap which their child is following, then everyone wins.

He has been to Maine on a number of occasions and has personally been involved with Maine Families Home Visiting in instructing and coaching the home visitors about how to actively listen and work with the milies they interact with using the Touchpoints techniques. Each home visitor has had this instruction as part of their training.

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eastern mainMaine Voices: Keep home visits in the state budget to keep milies healthy,I recently read Dr. T. Berry Brazeltons open letter addressed to legislators, commissioners and the community. I was reminded that an important part of a pediatricians love of their work with children includes the duty to speak up for milies — repeatedly.

We have to find and maintain the most effective and efficient ways to provide this care to avoid higher downstream consequences and costs if we were to il, where iling is not an option.

We have built a comprehensive program around the inpatient care for these innts and milies and have begun to undertake the challenge of creating a system of care in the community for keeping these milies engaged after discharge of the innt from the hospital.

The prescription opiate abuse epidemic in Maine is a reality we all ce and so is caring for these milies and their children.

– Special to the Press Herald

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