The Family Strengthening Network supports parents in Los Angeles County who are expecting or have recently given birth to a baby. Funded by First 5 LA, the Network promotes healthy births and helps families maximize the health and safety of their babies and young children. It also connects families with other support services and community resources.
The Network’s services begin with Welcome Baby, a free and voluntary program for pregnant women and families with newborns. Welcome Baby is available at 14 hospitals in L.A. County and is free for families regardless of income status, potential challenges, or risks. The Welcome Baby program includes prenatal support, a hospital visit at the time of the child’s birth, and home-based visits during the baby’s first 9 months.
Welcome Baby “parent coaches” support families with tools and resources in a variety of areas, including: bonding and attachment, maternal depression, breastfeeding, nutrition, early child development education, and home safety. The program also helps families navigate insurance coverage, schedule timely doctor visits, and access community services.
All women who deliver at a participating Welcome Baby hospital are eligible for the hospital visit. After that, the range of services depends on various risk factors and on whether or not a family lives in a Best Start community (a designation made by First 5 LA based on various demographic factors). Families residing in a Best Start community are eligible for up to nine Welcome Baby visits: three prenatal, one at the hospital, and five after the baby is born.
Longer-Term Home Visiting Services
Welcome Baby adequately supports the majority of pregnant women and new parents, but some families benefit from more intensive and longer-term support. After giving birth, new mothers receive an assessment to identify risks and determine if they would be better served by one of these more intensive home visiting programs.
These programs are affiliated with either Healthy Families America or Parents As Teachers, evidence-based models that are practiced nationwide. In total, they serve over 3,000 families in L.A. County each year. (See a list of partner home visiting organizations in L.A. County.)
Together, Welcome Baby and these partner home visiting programs make up the Family Strengthening Network, a system of care and support that helps families give their children the best start.