Healthy Start achieves high honor

Healthy Start/Healthy Families Oakland recently became the first in Michigan to receive a Certificate of Credential from Prevent Child Abuse America.

This achievement, effective through 2007, recognizes the high quality of the home visitation services that Healthy Start provides to at-risk families with young children.

"Only half of the more than 400 programs around the country have received this distinguished honor and we are the first of three to be credentialed by a recognized national lead in home visitation programs," said Melissa Freel, director of Healthy Start/Healthy Families Oakland.

The process of credentialing by Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA) has been extensive and exhaustive. In spring 2003, PCA completed an in-depth examination of the program's operation, including personnel, fiscal and program management and compared the program's operation to more than 150 critical best-practice standards in home visitation and program management.

Freel explained that the PCA's extensive and thorough review included ensuring families receive the appropriate number of home visits per their needs, as well as ensuring services are truly culturally competent and family centered.

"This certificate is much more than a national organization telling us, 'Well-Done.' It reaffirms what we at Healthy Start believe so strongly in -- making a difference in the lives of families," she said.

Healthy Start/Healthy Families Oakland will be celebrating its 10th year in 2004. It was started by St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital to provide intensive home visiting support to families in Pontiac only. Today, more than 200 families with young children throughout Oakland County benefit from weekly home visits made by trained family support staff. They provide information on child development, assist families with meeting basic needs, and connect families to other needed resources such as pediatricians.

For more information about the program, contact Melissa Freel at (248) 335-5638.