Vanderburgh County ‘Pre to 3′ programs aim to decrease area infant mortality rate

Vanderburgh County ‘Pre to 3′ programs aim to decrease area infant mortality rate
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:44 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Vanderburgh County Health Department is trying to lower the area’s infant mortality rate through a home-visit program for new moms.

Program officials say they started the “Pre to 3″ program because Indiana’s infant mortality rate is high compared to the rest of the country, and southern Indiana’s is high compared to the rest of the state.

Storm Tucker is a new single parent who says the experience has been a lot.

“Being a first-time mom is the scariest, most rewarding thing that I have ever done with my life,” said Tucker.

Storm says she wasn’t planning on getting pregnant, and didn’t see herself as overly maternal, but she wanted to be at her best for her daughter, Kelray.

Storm says she agreed to be a part of “Pre to 3″ without knowing a lot about it.

“I had no idea what I was signing up for, but I’m so glad that I did it,” said Tucker.

“Pre to 3″ is a weekly home visit program starting with pregnancy until the child turns three. Program officials say community health workers teach a range of skills using the “Growing Great Kids” curriculum; including coping strategies for stress, communication methods, developmental milestones and the importance of being present.

“It’s just them, looking at their child, talking to their child, playing with their child, working with their child in a nurturing, empathic way,” said “Pre to 3″ Supervisor Sophie French.

Carolina Ramirez-Mora is another new mom who says she’s appreciated the program’s presence in her home as she’s taken care of her son, Jacob.

“I feel like I have someone to support me,” said Ramirez-Mora. “I have someone that has my back with all these new things that come up every day.”

Program officials say they are working with about 60 Hispanic families. They say it means a lot to have someone visit who can understand their language and culture. They say it’s all about meeting clients’ needs.

“We don’t have any judgement, we don’t have any expectations,” said “Pre to 3″ Community Health Worker Sara Lince. “We just listen first of all, that’s our first big tool, listening to people, and after that, we just go deep into what they need.”

Officials say “Pre to 3″ has grown beyond Vanderburgh County. They make visits in Posey, Gibson and Warrick Counties as well. They say there’s a lot of demand for what they do in other counties too, and the program has a waitlist of people wanting to join. They say the only thing holding them back is a lack of funding.

For those making the home visits, they say it’s more about fun than lecturing, and they enjoy seeing the families and the children develop.

“You really do get to see babies that are born become little children and go to preschool; so you get to see a lot of change and development,” said “Pre to 3″ Community Health Worker Ashly Holt.

For those who have learned through the program, they say they’re grateful to have it.

“I can confidently say now, I am a great mom, and I have Ashly and the program to thank for that,” said Tucker.

To learn more about the “Pre to 3″ program and the work they do, click here.