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TFKC Prepares to “Welcome Babies” to Worcester (Part One)

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Imagine the questions that go through the mind of a caregiver with an infant regarding everything from healthcare to nutrition, nearby recreation areas, childcare facilities, stroller and baby seat availability, and child-friendly transportation. 

The questions are truly endless.

Unfortunately, there is no centralized local resource that provides answers. 

The Welcome Babies Project is working to change that. 

Yolanda Ramos, Outreach Engagement and Communication Consultant and Dodi Swope, Coordination Consultant with the Together For Kids Coalition (TFKC), a partner of Edward Street—have spent the past year assessing the needs of caregivers during the prenatal to age-one time period. Their goal is to frame a continuum of care that serves as the foundation for a resource system that will ultimately be run and operated by the City of Worcester. 

While performing this 12-month needs assessment, it became alarmingly clear that -- while new parents receive overwhelming amounts of information prior to their child's birth -- very little of it addresses common, everyday practical issues and concerns, such as locating quality daycare and finding new-parent support groups and networks. 

"We’ve discovered that there are serious gaps as well as opportunities for improvement within our city that will enable us to better collaborate as a community," states Ramos. "We're extremely hopeful and excited that Welcome Babies will have an enormously positive impact on all individuals who currently lack thorough, accurate information." 

"We'd love to get to the point where—literally inside the hospital setting—new mothers are given the resources and referrals they need to start raising their children as happy, productive individuals so they will become well-socialized within the Worcester community," notes Swope.  

A little support goes a long way  

In caring for infants, moms ideally require a support system of other mothers who are at the same phase in their lives. They need to interact with other moms to share advice, stories and tips; it's all part of being a responsible and loving caregiver. Such interaction could be as simple as weekly coffee get-togethers at a local restaurant. Welcome Babies will help facilitate the formation of such groups—and tell caregivers how to find them. 

For example, Welcome Babies has already contacted the EcoTarium in Worcester to see if they would be willing to serve as a meeting place for moms with their infants to have coffee and discuss baby-related issues and everyday worries. Such ongoing get-togethers would not only serve to alleviate caregiver stress, but also help young children develop socialization skills.  

States Ramos: “Without question, caregivers can learn from one another. After all, a little support goes a long way. Our ultimate objective is to connect caregivers with the appropriate services and providers that can address their specific needs." 

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A work in progress

Throughout this past year of research, the TFKC collected results from a survey—implemented with the cooperation of key Edward Street partners such as Pernet Family Health Service and the Worcester Family Partnership—to get an overall sense of caregiver needs and concerns (prenatal through age-one time period) within greater Worcester. Results are currently being reviewed by the Worcester Division of Public Health.

The initial findings cover a vast range of topics, including: how businesses and merchants can better accommodate caregivers who arrive with infants in tow; where to find safe play areas and family-friendly parks; how to best alleviate postpartum depression; and which city transportation modes are the safest and most effective.

"At its core, Welcome Babies is really about developing a welcoming community for families and ensuring that the proper resources exist—and are easily accessible—from the very beginning of life," says Swope. “It’s virtually impossible to go scrambling for such information on your own after a new baby has arrived and you've got a million other things to do." 

 Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog where we learn more about how Welcome Babies will evolve into a system of support for parents and children alike. 

 To learn more about the Together For Kids Coalition or the Welcome Babies Project, visit www.togetherforkidscoalition.org or email Dodi Swope at  

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