It was a little different this year. The food and drink were DIY, the stage was your screen, and the seating was … well, wherever you wanted to plant yourself to watch a live-streamed event. But the cause for celebration was the same: Home visiting programs in the Family Strengthening Network are changing lives and providing critical support to families across L.A. County.
LA Best Babies Network — in partnership with First 5 LA, Maternal and Child Health Access, PAC/LAC, Work2Live Productions, California Hospital Medical Center, and LA County’s Department of Mental Health, Department of Public Health, and Department of Public Social Services — hosted our annual Family Strengthening Network Summit on July 23, 2020. The fifth annual (but the first virtual), the event brought together nearly 700 home visiting staff members and others to celebrate the heroic work they’re doing for families during these tough times. (See the agenda, speaker bios, and more here, and watch recordings of the presentations below.)
“Honoring You” was the theme for this year’s event, and Family Strengthening Network teams (all of L.A. County’s Welcome Baby, Parents as Teachers, and Healthy Families America programs) have achieved high honors indeed.
With the onset of the pandemic in March — and the increased anxiety, social isolation, and other challenges families faced — the Network’s home visitors quickly learned how to conduct meaningful visits through videoconferencing. As First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé said in her opening remarks, “Where COVID-19 shook foundations, home visitors built them back up with safety-first compassion for families.”
In their presentation, LA Best Babies data analysts Delisa Young and Monica Charles reported that the total rate of completed visits has actually increased since March, and the enrollment rate has continued to climb. They also highlighted how additional support from county agencies has expanded, making home visiting services available in all regions of the county.
Other highlights of the event included a chat with a lovely family who recently participated in the Welcome Baby program — and who treated us to a tear-jerking performance of a song written about their baby girl. This was followed by a powerful speech from author and spoken word artist Dr. Jaiya John (sorry, no recording of that here, but check out his books and podcast). The nation’s preeminent scholar on home visiting, Dr. Deborah Daro, closed out the event with an insightful and inspiring talk on “the home visiting movement.”
Enjoy the recordings below! You can also find these videos on LA Best Babies Network’s YouTube channel.