Announcing Community-Designed Home-Based Programs and Practices Awards

Crossposted from the Best Starts for Kids Blog

We’re thrilled to announce ten awardees for the prenatal-to-5 Community-Designed Home-Based Programs & Practices funding opportunity. With a total investment of $5,825,000 million over 2.5 years, these awards to community-based organizations will expand the availability of home-based services that draw upon local community knowledge and practice to develop approaches that are designed for and valued by specific communities, and/or addressing populations not well-served by other programs.

Congratulation to our new partners:

  • United Indians of All Tribes
  • East African Community Services
  • Atlantic Street Center
  • Centro Rendu @St. Vincent DePaul
  • Iraqi Community Center
  • Open Arms Perinatal Services
  • El Centro de la Raza
  • Somali Health Board
  • Coalition for Refugees from Burma
  • Open Doors for Multicultural Families

Best Starts has made significant investments in evidence-based and evidence informed home-based programs and we are now so excited to invest in community-based expertise—such as experience, knowledge, and local client data—that embraces the concept that “practitioners in the field, families, communities, and diverse cultures serve a vital role” in identifying optimum programs and practices. This is the first significant public investment in community-designed programming for home visiting in King County.

For a full list of awardees and their projects, go to the Best Starts for Kids awards database and filter by the Home-Based Services: Community-Designed strategy.  (information will be available soon if not available already)

During the program development phase, Best Starts is supporting awarded partners by providing capacity building through the Capacity Building RFP that was also recently awarded. Stay tuned to the blog to soon meet those awarded community partners!

“This funding will address barriers faced by our focus community; immigrants and refugees from Burma, Iraq, Somalia, Latinx countries, and other new arrival communities living in South King County, by connecting parents to a trusted leader from their own communities in the form of a home visitor. All discussions and early learning/kindergarten readiness information are delivered in the native language of the parent, in a culturally relevant way. Learning toy delivery and interaction modeling will encourage parents to increase the quality and quantity of interactions with their child, which will in turn influence that child’s future success in school,” said Mona T. Han, Executive Director of Coalition for Refugees from Burma. Their Leadership, Education, and Access Program (LEAP) serves low-income, limited English-speaking people of color and based on the theory that refugees and immigrants rely on a community-based system of knowledge acquisition.

BSfK burmese-hbs

LEAP families and their community leaders (home visitors) served by the Coalition of Refugees from Burma in the past year.

As one of the Coalition for Refugees from Burma home visitors shared, “Our presence in the homes of the families is really special, especially the demonstration of playing with the children and providing examples to parents. The parents are so thankful to us for sharing creative ideas on how to play with their children. Having the same home language and cultural reference points are unique features of CRB’s LEAP program, and parents seem really interested to build their children’s skills while building their cultural identities.”

Equity Embedded in Program and Practice

The foundational principle behind the community-designed home-based services investment is that equity must be embedded in all programs and practices. Best Starts awarded organizations that are reflective of and embedded in the communities they serve, and recognize and address the disparities and disproportionality that exist in our communities.

For example, the Somali Health Board will use their awarded funding to develop and implement their home-based services program, Somali Centering Motherhood Program. Their project incorporates elements of the evidence-based models called CenteringPregnancy® and CenteringParenting® that the Centering Healthcare Institute developed in the 1990s. The Somali Health Board will adapt the model to include culturally relevant practices for the Somali community and relationship-based home visits. All services will be provided in Somali by Somalis.

“The Somali Health Board is excited to receive this award to implement Somali Centering Motherhood project which facilitates prenatal and postnatal care groups for expectant mothers- A new approach to care and an attempt to innovatively address significant maternal and child health disparities in our Somali-American population in King County. The Somali Health Board will leverage its strengths as a Somali-led organization to develop a culturally- and linguistically-responsive program that meets the needs of our community and our ultimate goal is to develop a robust set of best practices for this type of work to be duplicated in other immigrant communities,” said Ahmed Ali, Executive Director of the Somali Health Board.

East African Community Services (EACS) and Culturally Appropriate and Responsive Education Center (CARE Center) will partner to establish a pilot Somali Home Visit & Literacy Program called Sheeko, Sheeko, Sheeko Xariira (meaning “story story, what’s the story” in Somali). Serving 30 Somali families who are experiencing poverty, the pilot program is named after the oral storytelling activity of Sheeko Sheeko, which is a cultural activity that connects very well to dialogic reading. In Sheeko Sheeko, the mother starts the exchange with her child by saying, “sheeko sheeko” (story story). The child responds, “sheeko xariir” (what’s the story?). The mother and child go back and forth and build a story made up of Somali rhymes. The pilot program will build upon this existing cultural tradition to encourage mothers and family members to increase their child’s language exposure through singing lullabies and sharing stories. The pilot program includes weekly home visits from practitioners and establishes network of families. By hiring staff that are culturally and linguistically matched to families, the pilot program fills a critical need in the Somali community for culturally competent home-visits and support for parents and families of young children.

Amir “Noir” Soulkin from East African Community Services said, “Youth exposed to reading and literacy at the earliest moments of life, have a significant advantage over less-prepared youth. This funding allows EACS to intervene far earlier in the brain development of our youth.  Thus, Sheeko, Sheeko is a culturally sound tool in our ongoing evolutionary journey towards stronger individuals and stronger families.”

Other projects include:

  • Centro Rendu of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Community Services Pregnancy and Parenting Support (PrePS) will engage with low-income Latinx families to design and implement a home visitation program that meets their unique needs. Centro Rendu is fully embedded in the South King County Hispanic/Latinx community, with an all-Latinx staff and an ongoing process for incorporating community feedback into program design. Centro Rendu is trusted as a “go-to” resource for the community. Jackie Lloyd-Evans, from The Society of St. Vincent de Paul shared, “Best Starts funding will enable The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Community Services to unite the strengths of each agency on the ground, face to face in a more effective response to the growing needs of Latinx families across South King County.”
  • The Iraqi Community Center of Washington (IRCCW) is a community-based organization primarily serving the Iraqi and Arabic speaking refugee communities within South King County. IRCCW will provide culturally and linguistically competent, one-on-one home visiting services to low-income, Iraqi refugee families. Home visits will provide support and education to new and expecting mothers and families. Services will include case management, direct needs assessment, parent early-learning education, resource connection, community development and creating a larger support network of other parents. There will be an additional focus for parents with young children with disabilities. 
  • The United Indians of All Tribes will support the development and provision of culturally-based birth doula services for the AI/AN/NH/PI community in King County, called Daybreak Star Doulas. These free-of-cost birth doula services will be available to individuals who identify (themselves or their child) as AI/AN/NH/PI. Services will include provision of pre-birth information and birth coaching; birth, breastfeeding, and infant attachment observation and coaching; and therapeutic supports to reduce the risk of postpartum depression. 

The Community-Designed Programs and Practices for Home-Based Services investment is part of the larger Best Starts Home-Based Services funding strategy. Best Starts for Kids understands that families need a range of different home visiting services to best meet their needs and leverage community resources and expertise, with many different types of evidence to show what works—from randomized control trials to community-defined and practice-based evidence. We are proud to support building a system that meets the needs of all families in King County.

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