HANDS is a voluntary intensive home visitation program for first time or expectant parents that helps foster healthy pregnancies and births, stable child growth and development, safe homes, and self-sufficient families. Services can begin during pregnancy or at any time before a child is 3 months old.
What would it be like to help parent over 60 babies? Silvia Vesica can answer that question. Silvia has worked in the HANDS first-time parent visitation program for over 12 years, helping young parents negotiate the challenge and the joy of having their first baby. She is one of two Spanish-speaking staffers in Family & Children’s Place’s program. “It is very exciting to see the babies grow and the parents grow too, together as a family”, explains Silvia.
Participation in HANDS can begin in pregnancy or any time before the child is 3 months and when they’ve completed the program, (around the child’s second year) there is a graduation ceremony. There are two graduation ceremonies each year honoring the families and children. Each graduate receives a certificate and backpack full of educational supplies so parents can continue to read and do activities that will help their child be school ready. Every family receives a picture of their graduate with frame that they helped to design as a family as well as a special crown for each “graduating” two-year-old.
This spring was a very special celebration. “I saw one of my families come in with a big bouquet of flowers and balloons and as they came closer, I realized they were for me”, recalls Silvia. Thalia Martinez and her son Esvin Jordan presented Silvia with her gifts and said their very grateful and heartfelt good-byes. Martinez says, “Silvia means so much to us and we can never thank her enough”.