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'One of Indiana's best kept secrets': Statewide program helping, empowering families

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Posted at 2:26 PM, Oct 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-28 18:37:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A not-for-profit organization that's been around for decades says their adoption and family services are more in demand now than ever before.

The Villages Foster Care runs the Healthy Families program, which pairs parents with a family support worker.

The program aims to start working with families prenatally and can stay with them through the child’s 5th birthday.

“It’s a load off. It’s like a support system outside of your family," Nikeyah Malone said. “If I wasn’t in Healthy Families, mentally I don’t think I would’ve made it this far.”

Nikeyah and her one-year-old son Kadin, who has chronic heart disease, are part of the free, voluntary program. Together with support worker Sarah Gray, the group navigates the ups and downs of parenthood.

"I really want moms and families to feel empowered. Some of them don’t know it’s already in them and they just need someone to come in and point the obvious," Gray said.

700 families are currently enrolled in the program across eight counties.

“This is one of Indiana’s best kept secrets. People don’t realize this program is out here and it’s been here for almost 30 years," Nancy Gwin, senior director of prevention and education for The Villages, said. "We have to turn families away because we don’t have enough room. There is a huge need for programs like this.”

The Villages Healthy Families program is geared towards those living at or below the poverty line.

Family support workers meet with participants through home visits either weekly, bimonthly or monthly.

While the focus is on first time parents, the program is open to helping parents they’ve worked with previously.

To learn more about Healthy Families and connect with The Villages, click here.