Grant will Connect Arlington Families to Community Resources
By Karen Roberts, Arlington Tomorrow Foundation
Posted on October 20, 2020, October 20, 2020

Mother holding her baby

From birth to age 3, healthy brain development provides the building blocks for later success.

That’s why My Health My Resources (MHMR) of Tarrant County is working to build Family Connects, a national program that aims to bridge the gap between parent needs and community resources. In communities across the country, Family Connects provides a comprehensive support network for developmental screenings and referrals for babies and their families.

Thanks to a grant from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation to the MHMR Foundation, MHMR is launching the project in Arlington. 

“We know that brain development from birth to age three is really significant,” said Laura Kender, chief of Early Childhood Services for MHMR. “The earlier we can connect with a family, the more impact we can have to ensure healthy development.”

MHMR is the lead provider of mental health, intellectual and developmental disability and early childhood services in Tarrant County and surrounding counties.

As part of Family Connects, MHMR will work with two Arlington hospitals, Texas Health Resources Arlington and Medical City Arlington, to identify nearly 3,800 babies and their families to participate in the volunteer program. The grant from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation will provide screenings for more than 650 children.

Within three weeks after birth, a registered nurse will visit each family to provide resources and referrals, such as pediatricians and childcare centers, and assess the physical and mental well-being of the mother and child.

“If a mother is experiencing maternal depression and that goes unrecognized, the typical attachment may not be occurring,” Kender said. “That can have a huge impact on the baby’s growth and development.

Nationally, the program has resulted in greater community connections, more positive parenting behaviors, fewer emergency room visits for families and improved maternal mental health, studies show.

To conduct the family assessments, MHMR has hired five nurses, who received training at Duke University, where the program originated. MHMR plans to eventually expand the program to other hospitals in Tarrant County and beyond.

“When infants and toddlers get what their growing brains need, they become healthy children who are confident, empathetic and ready for school and life,” Kender said. “By starting at birth, we help to close those achievement gaps right from the start.”

Support from Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, which gave a $400,000 grant, will be instrumental in helping babies and families thrive.

“This is about providing the essential support Arlington families need,” Kender said. “The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation has shown that it believes early intervention is best, and we are so grateful.”

Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, Grant Highlights, Support Youth and Families
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