Preventing Child Abuse in Ulster County: Q&A with a Family Support Worker
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and to highlight the role the Institute plays in supporting families and strengthening our communities, we spoke with Nora Engelhard, a Family Support Worker at our Ulster County Healthy Families Program.
Describe your role as a Family Support Worker.
I meet with families throughout the county weekly. We discuss various topics pertaining to child development and any of that family’s current topics of interest.
How do families join the program?
We have participants that are referred from doctor’s offices, other human services agencies and sometimes participants refer other participants. We have a variety of referral sources.
What is the mission of Ulster County Healthy Families?
As a program, our goal is to provide families with resources, support and coping strategies. So, that even when they are parenting in stressful situations, they can handle it in a way that is most appropriate for them. We really try to explore different parenting styles with families, by providing them with the basics and they can make a choice on how they want to parent their children. We really want children in our community to receive nurturing care and to have healthy and productive lives as they grow with their families.
How have you had to intervene to prevent child abuse?
We accept families from various demographics, so sometimes the parents themselves do have other challenges, whether that may be poor mental health, increased stress, sometimes drug addiction — so these are instances where we would intervene. We connect these families directly to resources that are going to help them. We have a great way of looking at the strengths in someone, when a lot of people might not be able to see that right away. We cater our program and our approach to each individual family and what their needs are.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
The most fulfilling aspect of my job is watching the parent-child interaction. Going to homes and watching parents play with their children and find such joy in their development. I love seeing parents bond with their babies. Everyone should look into a healthy families program. It’s not judgemental, it’s a safe-space and it’s great for any parents.
For more information about Ulster County Healthy Families program, call: (845) 339-8551