Approach to Family Support
MIHOW programs are flexible, tailored to the needs of the sponsoring agency, the community, and the families served. Local programs are sponsored by child care centers, primary healthcare facilities, or multi-service community agencies. Some sites employ outreach workers full-time, while others have part-time workers. But certain features are uniform throughout the network:
The foundation of all MIHOW services is the recognition that regardless of living conditions or circumstances every family has strengths. Helping the MIHOW staff and participants acknowledge and build on these strengths is the fuel that drives each MIHOW program. This process of self-discovery, encouragement, and action begins with the selection and training of outreach workers and continues throughout their MIHOW journey. The workers, in turn, apply the same skills to home visiting, focusing on the needs identified by the family members and using the family's strengths to address those needs. This approach sets the stage for healthy living, lasting motivation, and self-sufficiency. As a result, participating families, outreach workers, and the sponsoring agencies become confident and effective activists for improving the health and social services in their communities.
MIHOW recognizes that paraprofessionals and program participants are equal members of the community and have a mutual interest in making all of our lives better. Paraprofessional outreach workers visit parents in their own homes and in their own neighborhoods. They utilize peer to peer mentoring to develop the trusting relationships necessary for productive home visiting. MIHOW workers receive extensive and ongoing training about pregnancy, childbirth, infant feeding, child development, and positive parenting. With mentors and a research-based curriculum to guide them, they respond to each family's unique strengths and needs. They serve several roles — a helpful resource, confidant, and powerful role model. Through the outreach worker's example, participants gain confidence that they, too, can grow in new ways.
MIHOW recognizes the mother's significant role in nurturing, guidance and family growth. Outreach workers help moms to build strong, healthy emotional bonds between themselves and their children. MIHOW partners with Attachment Parenting International to inform curriculum, training, and best practices for forming secure attachment.
Community-based and community-development focused
The local sponsors, local leaders, and local outreach workers are involved at every stage of program development. Outreach workers are employees, not volunteers, creating jobs in low-income areas. Agency staff advocate for changes that affect the health of their entire community.