Group to pay parents for feedback on programs

HARRISVILLE — Parents participating in a home visiting program for children up to 5 years old are being offered incentives to attend quarterly local leadership meetings to provide feedback that can help home-visiting agencies better their services for qualifying families.

The Local Leadership Group is comprised of state agencies that offer services to support at-risk mothers and families with children from birth to age five. Those agencies connect families with trained professionals to provide the resources and encouragement needed to ensure vulnerable children grow up in a safe and supportive environment.

Northeastern Michigan has several home-visiting programs, such as Early Head Start Home Visiting, Healthy Families America and the Maternal Infant Health Program, to offer necessary help to families to maintain stability and make sure kids are school-ready. For the parents currently enrolled in one of the programs, the Leadership group is looking for advice from the very people that utilize the services.

Kim Sutter, an employee for District Health Department No. 2, said parents can provide the most insight to better the programs.

“Parents have the most valuable feedback and can provide rich information to help improve and streamline our programs,” Sutter said.

For the last two years, the Leadership Group has come together with parents to collaborate and discuss changes that could be made. But Sutter said there has not been much parent involvement. They are asking for more help from the parents enrolled in home-visiting programs.

“We want to make sure these families can get the best services,” Sutter said.

In order to encourage parent participation, they are offering $25 an hour for meetings and travel time, up to $50 reimbursement for childcare, and paid mileage. The meetings are held every three months at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services office in Gaylord.

The group covers Michigan’s Prosperity Region Three, which is made up of 11 counties: Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Roscommon, Ogemaw, and Iosco.

Sutter said the meetings are a great opportunity to enhance the programs and the lives of those within the programs. She said it is also a great experience for parents to gain leadership skills that can boost their employability.

For more information, contact Sutter at 989-709-8320.

Kaitlin Ryan can be reached at kryan@thealpenanews.com or at 358-5693.