Healthy Families gets new agency

A program that has assisted new and expectant parents in the Columbus area for 23 years has transitioned to a new agency.

Bartholomew County’s Healthy Families program is now being administered by New Hope Services Inc., a Jeffersonville-based nonprofit that has managed the local Women’s, Infants and Children program for the past three years.

After being overseen by Family Service Inc. since 1994, the Healthy Families program moved to offices in the Doug Otto United Way Center, 1531 13th St., on Sept. 1., New Hope spokeswoman Jayne Labes said.

The administrator is Klarinda Tutterow, who has been employed with the Healthy Families program in Scott County for the past five years and has previously worked in Bartholomew County, Labes said.

After Family Service assessed both the program and its own mission for almost two years, the staff and board of directors allowed its Healthy Families contract to expire Aug. 31, Family Service Inc. executive director Julie Miller said.

“The staff and board of directors felt it was time for a change,” Miller said. “Financially, it was a stressful program for upkeep. The program itself has also changed at times in serving different populations.”

But the most significant reason for dropping the program was a need to better focus its resources on addressing growing mental health and substance abuse issues, Miller said.

“We have up to 10 mental health referrals a day,” Miller said. “There is also a huge deficit for substance abuse services in this community.”

For local participants in the Healthy Families program, the different administration should result in only one noticeable change, Labes said.

Since New Hope Services has trained and qualified staff in 14 other southern and central Indiana counties, there will be fewer disruptions when an Healthy Families employee finds another job, she said.

“We had struggled with retaining our staff,” Miller said. “But New Hope Services can transfer staff from county to county to help in that situation.”

Healthy Families provides new and expectant parents with information about the health, safety and care of newborns, according to the program’s national website.

The voluntary and confidential home-based service includes regular visits from a trained family support specialist who can provide support, developmental assessments for their child, and an opportunity to set and accomplish family goals, the website stated.

Although the program in Columbus directly serves 50 to 60 families annually, Healthy Families makes more than 200 referrals to partnering agencies, Miller said.

“We are grateful to a lot of partners, and it’s been a wonder journey we’ve made together,” Miller said. “But it’s time to refocus our mission on where we are most needed, and can best put our resources.”

Originally founded by the Bartholomew County Mental Health Association, Family Service Inc. has offered a range of mental health and emotional help to thousands of area clients in the Columbus area since May 1, 1968.

Founded in Clark County in 1958, New Hope Services Inc. employs 180 people that serve 20 Indiana counties in three primary divisions: Adult Services, Family Services, and Housing & Community Development.

Program overview /contact information

Bartholomew County’s Healthy Families program offers:

  • The latest information on infant and child brain development.
  • Age-appropriate developmental screenings.
  • Information on budgeting, transportation, positive discipline, community resources.
  • Education/employment opportunities.
  • Support in setting and achieving family goals.
  • Information and support in keeping up with childhood immunizations and health care.
  • Parent-child activities that promote infant brain development and bonding.

Offices for the Healthy Families program are now located at the Doug Otto United Way Center, 1531 13th St.

Telephone: 812-314-2243.

Online information at newhopeservices.org/healthy-families

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.