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Family Outreach Center/Resource Mother Program Helping Women from Pregnancy through Baby’s First Year

separator For some women, the stresses of daily life are so great that it’s difficult to take care of routine health needs. Prenatal care when they’re pregnant and medical appointments for their babies might fall by the wayside without special programs to help them. For more than a decade, a program with Community Health Partners in Lorain County, Ohio has been helping women get themselves and their babies off to a good start. It’s called the Family Outreach Center/Resource Mother Program. 

Jane Mrosko, Family Resource Specialist with the program, says, “We work with high-risk pregnancies. They come early in the pregnancy and we work with them until the baby is a year old. We give them prenatal care. We connect them to insurance, and if they don’t have that, we help them with charity applications.” 

There are currently 122 women in the program. They find out about it through referrals from social service agencies and also through friends who were in the program before. 

Mrosko explains that the goals of the program are to

  • Help women have a healthy pregnancy
  • Do everything possible to ensure a healthy birth weight baby
  • Give baby and mother a good start in life

The program also offers bereavement services to those who need them (when babies die of SIDS, for example) and “boot camp” for new dads. “We match up rookie dads with veteran dads and teach them about changing diapers and feeding,” says Mrosko. “We also talk about shaken baby syndrome with them and offer solutions on what to do when they’re feeling frustrated. We offer formula and diapers if women are in a bind, and rent assistance. But these are one-time offerings.” 

The program is officially available to the women for one year, but, says Mrosko, “We’re always a resource for them, even after one year. They can always call us—we can connect them up with other services.” 

The program employs “resource mothers” to work with the women. “They’re from the community, they’re not social workers or anything,” says Mrosko, “but they’re trained for outreach. They have similar stories and backgrounds, and some of them were even in the program at one time. They’ve come a long way, but they can relate to our clients. Some of them have been homeless, some have been single parents.” 

Immunization program successful
One of the biggest successes the program has seen is with adherence to immunization schedules. “We have a big board that shows when immunizations are due,” says Mrosko.  

She acknowledges that at first, some women resist getting vaccinations for their babies. “Some of them tell us they’ve read about bad side effects,” she says. “We tell them the effects of the diseases are much worse, and the odds with immunizations are much lower. We really work with them. Every visit, we talk about immunizations. We get them transportation to the appointments. Their lives are complex. Often they have no transportation, or they’re in school. It’s hard for them.” But the work pays off, because a great majority of the women do get vaccinations for their babies. “We have a 90 to 97 percent compliance rate with that,” says Mrosko. 

Helping women help themselves, then give back
The Resource Mothers Program was originally founded by the Sisters of Humility of Mary. “The hospital saw that it would be a good fit with their goals and philosophy,” says Mrosko.  “We’re funded by lots of different organizations—the hospital’s foundation, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Humility, the Ohio Department of Health. It’s a wonderful collaboration. We work together with different agencies.” 

Mrosko has been involved with the program for 10 years. She was trained as a Licensed Practical Nurse and worked in hospital nursing and doctor’s offices, but says probably the thing that’s helped her the most in her current position is working with people. 

The most rewarding thing about her job, she says, is “when clients give back to us. First off, to see them even taking teeny tiny steps is great. But often, after they’re finished in the program, they come back and contribute. They’ll give formula or diapers if they can. One woman came in with a huge food basket for any family that needed it. One woman who had gone through the program and who’s now a medical assistant started a coat drive that was very successful. 

“Our goal is to get programs like this going in other regions,” she says, believing that the things she’s learned in the past 10 years would enable other programs to get up and running quickly. “There are so many ins and outs that we could help with,” she says.

Jane Mrosko, Family Resource Specialist, Resource Mother Program, Community Health Partners, Lorain County, Ohio
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