We are thrilled to have the opportunity to feature Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and their partnership with First3Years around Baby Day for our November Partner Spotlight. We are excited to share more about their organization and are glad to welcome them as an Organizational Ambassador and Activity Partner in Houston for Baby Day 2020!
Tell us a little bit more about your organization.
"Blessed Beginnings is a program of Catholic Charities where we provide prenatal and parenting education classes. In addition to hosting classes onsite and offsite of our Catholic Charities offices, we also provide material assistance - such as help with diapers, wipes and other baby items at each of our classes. The great thing about our classes is that they are completely free. We use evidence-based curriculum to inform our parents about everything from developmental milestones to baby proofing the home to creating a birth plan and learning about the stages of labor. Our main goal is to provide support for families with children under the age of 5. Within our program, because we are part of the Catholic Charities network, we are able to connect parents to a variety of different services such as immigration assistance, basic needs like food or rent and utilities assistance. We have a whole network of Catholic Charities programs which is a benefit for families who are in our program.
Additionally, it is easy to get involved. We have many different locations - it is as simple as contacting the location and requesting what you are searching for. Most people call our intake line, or they hear about us from 211 and we do provide walk-in assistance at our Moran location."
What inspired your organization to become a Baby Day Ambassador?
"When we first learned about Baby Day, we were excited because it focused on providing actual activities for parents to do and learn with their babies. It is not just the education piece, as that is critically important to us, but the opportunity for caregivers to take experiences home with them and replicate them. We connected with the notion of not only informing parents about the great role that they have in helping their baby's brain develop and the importance of connecting and talking with your baby - but more so inspiring people to learn and focus on why the first three years of a child's life are so critical. Baby Day is an avenue to talk about the importance of everything that is happening in the first three years of the baby's life but, more importantly, it emphasizes what our role as parents are and how we can help them develop and thrive."
How does your organization's work in the community align with Baby Day and First3Years?
"We know that our families are in need of much more than just a support group. They need a variety of resources to help them put food on the table or to pay rent or maybe they don't have their citizenship status and they are in fear of going to other agencies for help. Catholic Charities has always helped the most vulnerable people and served our community in numerous ways. Our work aligns with Baby Day because we are focused on supporting parents connecting them to the resources they need and learning how to help their baby. Many of our families report suffering from diaper need, so by coming to our classes they receive material assistance, any referrals needed and also learn about developmental milestones or the importance of reading to their young child. That is why we align well. We share a similar mission to educate parents and support them in their journey to have happy and healthy babies."
What activity will you be providing on Baby Day? Can you share more about how your activity supports the development of infants and toddlers?
"We plan on having an interactive station and teaching parents how to do sensory activities and other play activities with their infants and toddlers."
Is there anything else you might want to share about your organization?
"The unique thing about our program is that we are able to go to different locations. We go to high schools, churches and community centers so that we can provide services directly to families that can benefit from our services. Transportation is such a huge issue in our city, we really want families to know that there are resources for them and there is support for them. We are at locations throughout Harris County but also in Fort Bend County and we try to inform people that there is help and they just need to reach out. We teach families to advocate for themselves and their families and hopefully they are able to pass that along to a family they know to help people get the support they need.
Additionally, we let our families bring their children to our classes. We understand that childcare is not affordable and our families might not have someone to help watch their children. Our classes are completely free and we offer morning and evening classes - we try to meet them where they are. We really try to help them as much as we can to get them the things that they really need and empower them with knowledge along the way."