WINCHESTER, VA- The City of Winchester and Warren County have been labeled at-risk communities by the Virginia Department of Health.
The classification is based on high rates of poverty, domestic violence, high school dropouts, substance abuse, poor birth outcomes and child maltreatment among other things.
Healthy Families of the Northern Shenandoah Valley works to end those statistics, by stepping in to help for first-time parents.
"What Healthy Families program does is actually work individually with the families one-on-one at their home to help them build on strengths," says Maria DeLalla a Resource Specialist with Healthy Families.
"In the past 15 years, we've really worked with parents at birth, identifying and accessing them at birth," says Sara Schoonover-Martin. "We want to expand more prenatal, from the time the mom is 20 weeks pregnant to engage families even earlier, so we can make a difference in the health outcomes throughout the pregnancy and into childhood."
Healthy Families, hosted by Valley Health, has just received $520,600 in grant money to expand their services in Winchester and Warren County. They'll be hiring additional staff to give in-home and in-hospital assessments and assistance.
"We help families continue their education, get jobs," says Majorie Lewis, a board member with Healthy Families of the Northern Shenandoah Valley. "We want to support them in any way that we can because when they succeed in the community, our community is stronger."
They hope a stronger community will set new standards for children in the future.