What is Strong Beginnings?
Strong Beginnings is a program to help women have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. We also assist men in raising healthy children and taking an active role in their families. Strong Beginnings is committed to promote better health for African American and Latinx/a mothers, fathers, and their children during pregnancy and for 18 months after delivery.
Strong Beginnings employs Community Health Workers (CHWs) who serve as peer mentors and work with care coordinators (nurses, nutritionists, and counselors) from the Maternal Infant Health Program (MIHP) offered by Cherry Health, the Kent County Health Department, Mercy Health, and Spectrum Health. Through the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Strong Beginnings employs male CHWs to provide services to fathers and Spectrum Health houses the Padres Fuertes initiative for Latinx men. Counselors at Arbor Circle offer individual and group therapy sessions.
Strong Beginnings also offers services to community members and service providers, including parenting classes, group education, men’s groups, breastfeeding support groups, and dialogue sessions on health equity and social justice. (See Community Services)
All our programs are free of charge.
Who is Strong Beginnings for?
We understand that every parent can use support, guidance, and advice from a trained professional. Some families may face challenges that make it hard to stay healthy during pregnancy. Others may want to learn how to take care of their babies and raise healthy children. We are here to help!
We offer our services to pregnant women living in Kent County, their partners, and to parents of children less than four months of age. We focus our efforts on African American and Latinx families and offer programs in English and Spanish.
If I enroll, what kinds of services are available through Strong Beginnings?
Our team of community health workers (CHWs), nurses, counselors, and nutritionists will visit you to make sure you are doing well, provide personal support, listen to you, help you set goals, share information, and connect you with community resources.
We can meet with you in your home, at your doctor’s office, or any other place you
choose to offer the following services:
- Support for you, your partner and your baby during the pregnancy and for 18 months after your baby is born
- Help getting prenatal care
- Education on how to stay healthy and raise a healthy child
- Information on parenting and child development
- Help build life skills, confidence, and emotional resilience
- Help with getting resources such as transportation, job training, food, baby supplies and medical care
- Counseling for stress and depression
- Breastfeeding support
We want to partner with you to help you achieve the goals that are important to you. From family support to health education all our activities take into account participants’ cultural background and unique circumstances to provide individualized care
What about fathers?
Children whose fathers are involved in their lives are more confident, get better grades and avoid risky behaviors. Our fatherhood initiative seeks to strengthen families by encouraging fathers to play an active role in nurturing and raising their children through mentoring, education, and father-child activities.
Strong Fathers/Padres Fuertes is available to male partners of Strong Beginnings clients and to men raising a child under 18 months of age. Services include visits by male staff in the home or other convenient locations for:
- Education on topics such as men’s health, healthy relationships, and infant care
- Ideas on how they can support their partners during pregnancy and post-partum
- Information on parenting and child development
- Help with getting resources such as transportation, job training, food, legal advice, baby supplies and medical care
- Access to counseling for stress and depression
- Help build life skills such as communication, budgeting, goal-setting and resilience
Staff at Arbor Circle are available to provide counseling and support for mental health and substance use.
See Community Services for information on other services available to men.
Baby Scholars. Baby Scholars is an educational program designed to help parents help their children reach their full potential. Baby Scholars gives parents of children five months to five years the tools they need to help their babies grow smarter and to equip their children for kindergarten. The program focuses on helping parents become the best teachers they can be, so their children can succeed in school and in life. Read more at https://believe2become.org/programs/baby-scholars/.
From health care to father mentoring, all Strong Beginnings activities take into account the participants' cultural background and unique circumstances to provide individualized care.