“The Healthy Start program aims to improve the health and well-being of children and parents across our region.  Mental health services, parent education, and substance use prevention are core priorities for our work and make our partnership with University of Oregon a perfect fit. Learn more about this project in the article below, written by Whitney Nash, Assessment Coordinator at University of Oregon’s Prevention Science Institute.”

Parenting is hard work in the best of times. Parenting during the pandemic can feel even more difficult. On top of that, did you know that 85% of areas in the country with shortages in mental health professionals are rural (1)? Mothers in rural areas often report difficulty accessing support and services for their family, including finding providers in their area and barriers with transportation. It can be challenging to keep up with expenses for caring for young children (e.g., diapers, clothing, nutritious food) and helping them grow and thrive if you are also dealing with your own stress, like health concerns, substance use, and having enough social support.

Research shows that family-centered supports and parent training have the most impacts on child development and behavior. And yet, barriers like time, money, and access prevent many parents from engaging in family-centered supports. One solution is offering supports that can be delivered directly to your phone so you can access support on your own time without having to go anywhere. Another solution is offering brief, cost-effective strategies that can help you with your parenting right away. 

The Family Check-Up (FCU) is a program you can access on your phone that helps you think about your health, your child, and your parenting. The FCU is interactive and teaches skills like focusing on positive parenting, monitoring your health and wellness, setting up routines, and building your relationship with your child. The FCU has been used with thousands of families around the country to improve family functioning. 

Healthy Start is partnering with the University of Oregon Prevention Science Institute to study the types of services and support families with young children receive in rural Oregon. In the coming months, families will be invited to see if they’re eligible to take part in a paid study involving the Family Check-Up and completing surveys about health and parenting young children. Check back here for more details about when the project is beginning. In the meantime, if you’re curious, check out the Prevention Science Institute’s website for information about the work they’re doing on the Family Check-Up.


(1) New Freedom Commission on Mental Health: Subcommittee on Rural Issues: Background Paper, 2004