A $25,000 grant was recently given to the Bright Beginnings Mentor Program at Yale-New Haven Hospital to help the program continue to assist young mothers adapt to the demands of parenting.
The money, granted by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, a reservoir of locally donated philanthropic funds, will go toward recruiting new Spanish-speaking volunteers from the greater New Haven area, training these volunteers through the program’s Mentor Training Institute, and eventually matching them with families.
Also, the funds from the foundation — which has an endowment exceeding $200 million — will be used to help create a manual that can be used as a model for establishing other such programs around New Haven.
The Bright Beginnings Mentor Program was started nine years ago by the Friends of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, an organization established in 1989 to address health issues affecting children’s well being. The program relies on volunteers to assist mothers from their second trimester of pregnancy until the time their children turn 1 year old, coordinator Lila Johnson said.
Since 1994, the program has been generating ways of aiding mothers between the ages of 15 and 25 in developing critical parenting skills by providing them with volunteer role models who also provide information for the expectant mothers. The volunteers are matched one-on-one with the families participating in the mentor program, and they address the specific concerns that a mother raises.
Johnson said the grant came at just the right time.
“We couldn’t have done it without their help,” Johnson said.
Having just completed a randomized trial where various mentoring techniques were tested to determine which were the most effective, Bright Beginnings is ready to implement the clinical phase of its program with the money it recently received from the Community Foundation.
The testing, funded by the Friends of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, showed that in-home discussion with mothers about the stages of child development, ways to best utilize community resources during and after pregnancy, and general principles for the promotion of good health for both the child and the mother would be among some of the techniques that would help expectant mothers.
Anita Bonilla, another program coordinator, said mentors will also accompany mothers when they go to the hospital to receive the medical care necessary during and after pregnancy.
In short, the mentors “empower the mothers,” Bonilla said.
The money will also be used to fund a Mother’s Afternoon Out support group that mothers can attend with their children, where they learn about and discuss parenting.