Healthy Families: Pregnancy, Parenting Support
On This Page:
- Family Support and Education
- Child Health and Developmental Screenings
- Asthma Home Visiting
- Pregnancy Testing
- Breastfeeding Support
- Parenting Classes and Support Group
- Nutrition Services
- Referrals to Community Health and Social Services
- Support for Tobacco-Free Home
- Emergency Preparedness for Families
Research shows that the first 3 years of a child's life are crucial to his or her future health and well-being. The pregnancy and parenting programs of Lewis and Clark Public Health help provide parents with the knowledge and resources they need to make those first years the best they can be.
Family Support and Education
Through the Nurse Family Partnership and Parents As Teachers programs, nurse advisors and family support specialists, known as home visitors, provide free support and education on many topics of interest to pregnant women and families with children through age 5. These include healthy pregnancy and preparation for a healthy baby, wellness and child development, breastfeeding, nutrition, safety, attachment and bonding, and parent skill building.
Home visitors can also help advise families about and help families learn how to access community resources for food, housing, Medicaid, employment, child care, and health care.
These services are provided in the home or other comfortable setting.
Child Health and Developmental Screenings
Do you wonder if your child is developing at the expected rate? Our registered nurses and family support specialists offer free screenings for children from 2 months through 5 years old. They can suggest fun activities you can use to help your child meet his or her full potential. They will make referrals if your child needs more specialized help.
Home visitors also can perform free vision and hearing tests. The sooner a child's health or developmental problems are identified, the more likely he or she is to reach their fullest potential.
Asthma Home Visiting
The health department's asthma project helps families of children with asthma in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties control the disease rather than let it control them.
Trained nurses will visit the homes of children ages 0-17 to help them and their families find ways to reduce exposure to the things that trigger asthma attacks. The free program also can supply special mattress and pillow covers, medication advice, asthma educational materials, and referrals to community resources.
The health department offers free pregnancy tests and assistance applying for Medicaid.
Registered nurses who are specially trained as certified lactation counselors or internationally board certified lactation counselors can answer questions about breastfeeding and help solve breastfeeding problems. Visits can be by phone, at the health department, or in the home, whichever is most comfortable. Free weight checks for breastfeeding infants are available.
Breastfeeding support is available to any woman in Lewis and Clark County who is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Parenting Classes and Support Group
The health department offers a year-round Parenting from the Heart program, funded in part by the Montana Children's Trust Fund. The program consists of two parts: a parent support group and "Circle of Security" parenting classes.
Parenting Support Group: Meets on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8 PM, under the guidance of a professionally trained facilitator. Free child care is provided.
Circle of Security Parenting Classes: 8-10 week courses are regularly scheduled. The goal of the classes is to improve a child's sense of security within a family, which research has shown leads to better self-esteem, better relationships, enhanced school readiness, and improved ability to cope with emotions. Check out the video below to learn more about Circle of Security.
Both the classes and the support group are free and open to all parents in the Helena area. The focus is on families with children under age 8, but parents of older children are also welcome.
The health department is home of the federal WIC Nutrition Program for women, infants and children. WIC provides nutrition and breastfeeding education and supplemental food during children's critical developmental stages.
Support for a Tobacco-Free Home
The First Breath Program is available to pregnant women through their baby's 3rd month of life. It assists women who wish to reduce or quit tobacco use. Participants can receive free diapers.
Emergency Preparedness for Families
Are you and your family prepared to cope during a disaster or emergency?
The first step is to make a family emergency plan. Among other things, it should address how you'll contact each other, the care of pets, helping family members who have special needs, and safely shutting off utilities.
You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at work, daycare and school.
Once you’ve collected this important information, gather your family members and discuss the information to put in the plan. Practice your plan at least twice a year and update it according to any issues that arise.
For help making your family plan: