[HCCN] PR: UWEM supports RealCare parenting

Candy Eaton children at downeasthealth.org
Wed Aug 24 11:30:03 EDT 2011


CONTACT:Kathie Norwood, Executive Director


*"United Way of Eastern Maine supports *

*RealCare® parenting in Hancock County"*

The Downeast Children's Council, a program of Downeast Health Services 
Inc., is pleased to announce continued financial support from the United 
Way of Eastern Maine to provide the RealCare® parenting program to 
students in Hancock County schools.The Downeast Children's Council 
RealCare® parenting program provides middle school and high school 
students throughout Hancock County with an opportunity to learn how to 
appropriately care for an infant in order to prevent injury and 
neglect.Since 2001, over 2000 students from 23 Hancock County community 
schools have participated in this 48-hour simulated parenting experience 
using computerized life-like infants.

The purpose of the Real Care® parenting program is to give students the 
knowledge they need to make informed decisions about parenting.Using an 
/evidence-informed/ curriculum, the program explores the emotional, 
financial and social consequences of parenting and is intended to help 
teens understand three important facts:1) Infants require a great deal 
of time and attention, 2) Infants' demands are unpredictable, but must 
be met promptly; and 3) parenting responsibilities impact one's 
lifestyle profoundly.

Why do we partner primarily with 8^th grade classes?Eighth grade is the 
last intact class of boys and girls that have the opportunity to learn 
together about empathy and understand how it relates to caring for 
children.This experience teaches adolescents about the damaging effects 
of child abuse, and how to appropriate care for an infant in order to 
prevent injury and neglect.These skills are important to provide teens 
that care for younger siblings, become babysitters, or young parents, 
with the correct response to a crying baby.

Prior to the 48-hour parenting simulation, teachers instruct the 
students in how to safely hold, feed, burp, bathe, and change an 
infant.Students are taught the basics of infant physical and mental 
development, how to provide a safe environment for an infant and how to 
properly install an infant car seat.Students may also have the 
opportunity to experience the "Empathy Belly"^(TM), a unique resource 
that simulates pregnancy through the use of a rib belt and the strategic 
positioning of various weighted components.The computerized infant 
provides detailed information about the care that Baby receives.At the 
completion of each parenting experience, the school coordinator 
downloads the data from each computerized infant and notes the outcomes 
for each student.

To enhance the parenting simulation curriculum, we also provide 
demonstration babies that show the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and 
drug abuse during pregnancy.The stark contrast between a normal baby and 
drug-affected baby has an immediate, visual high impact on participants; 
and the delayed response to care requires students to exercise extreme 
patience.Our new computerized "Shaken Baby Syndrome" demonstration 
infant is designed with a transparent head that clearly defines the 
traumatic brain injuries caused by abusive head trauma.When the 
simulator is shaken, affected sections of the brain light up to 
illustrate where brain damage has occurred.Combined with a curriculum 
that helps establish a plan for coping with an inconsolable baby, we are 
learning that this experience remains with participants for a long time.

As the only county-wide program dedicated to keeping children safe, the 
Children's Council is uniquely situated to provide a consistent program, 
using specialized materials that are beyond the capacity of most schools 
to invest their limited funding.We are in a position to monitor the 
program use by our many school partners, implement recommendations for 
improvement, and share our findings with all participating schools.

Small rural schools do not have the resources to purchase these 
materials for their own use, and are challenged to contribute any 
funding for this program.As Hancock County schools experience declining 
enrollments and shrinking school budgets, we have saved local schools 
over $200,000 by purchasing these materials to be shared by all 
communities, rather than having each school purchase their own 
materials, a cost-saving effort appreciated by municipal leaders 
annually.The Children's Council offers this program to all Hancock 
County middle schools and high schools.Reservations for this program are 
on a first-come, first-reserved basis by calling Jamie Brooks at 
667-5304 ext. 261 beginning September 1^st , 2011.Please visit our 
website at www.downeasthealth.org <http://www.downeasthealth.org> or 
email children at downeasthealth.org <mailto:children at downeasthealth.org>to 
learn about RealCare^(TM) parenting, other parenting workshops and 
classes, support groups, and family resources available in Hancock County.

The United Way of Eastern Maine works with local community partners for 
meaningful and lasting change that improves the lives of people in our 
region.For additional information, contact United Way of Eastern Maine 
at 207-941-2800 or visit their website at www.unitedwayem.org 

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