Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy (FSU Center) focuses on vulnerable infants and toddlers in the areas of school readiness, infant mental health, home visiting and quality childcare practices. The work of the FSU Center contributes to major state initiatives for maternal and child health and development. Programs include the FSU Young Parents Project, a home visiting program for court-involved teen mothers and their children, the Early Head Start program in Gadsden County, Early Childhood Court Initiative, Partners for a Healthy Baby Curriculum and the Ten Components of Quality. The vision of the FSU Center is that “one day all children will be healthy, equipped to learn, and nurtured to develop their full potential.” This vision is implemented by investigating what interventions are most effective, translating the related research findings into public policy and programs, and evaluating the impact on children ages 0-3, their families and the communities in which they live.
FSU Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy
Young Parents Project staff support young families during weekly home visits, utilizing reflective listening, as well as a parallel process of nurturing the teen mother, so she can learn to nurture her baby. This means respecting and valuing their strengths, as well as supporting them in responding to extremely adverse life situations. Outreach is provided to disconnected teen mothers who reside throughout Miami-Dade in some of the most impoverished, underserved areas. During a visit the Infant Mental Health Specialist uses play materials to encourage mom/baby interaction and teach the young mother about child development.
“The one thing that I see is that we have the opportunity to have generational impact. We can work with both the adolescent mom and the baby. They are both so very needy and so very important. If we get in there right now, we have a chance to be on the prevention side instead of the teen having deeper court involvement and a young child having challenges.” Barbara White, Young Parents Project Director
Even within a resource-rich social service community such as Miami-Dade County, these families are disconnected from services that support their self-efficacy and success in life. There are multiple barriers to enrolling a teen parent involved in the delinquency system in a full-time educational program that meets the needs of both the young mother and child. They are often not at appropriate grade level and are more than one grade level behind. The Young Parents Project continues to work with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools COPE Centers that offer parenting classes and on-site child care while the the teen attends school. The project's advocacy role assures a better chance for the teens’ education, critical to each young family’s success.
Florida State University's Young Parents Project
Florida State University's Young Parents Project (YPP) is an intensive home visiting program that addresses the complex needs of court-involved pregnant/parenting teens and their young children. Young mothers involved in the juvenile court system must be considered within the context of broader social problems and injustices. Their histories of both risk and resilience are deeply embedded in under-resourced communities. Most often, they have grown up in poverty, witnessed family and community violence and commonly experienced sexual abuse, complex trauma, and even human trafficking. The obstacles faced impact their ability to safely protect and nurture their children. YPP is adapted from Yale University’s evidence-based model called Minding the Baby® that uses a reflective practice parenting approach designed to address trauma, promote the attachment relationship between the teen and baby, and support both their physical and mental health needs. The project’s interdisciplinary team (Social Worker, Counselor and Nurse) offers home visiting services to young mothers throughout Miami-Dade County. Staff recognize the trauma and subsequent challenges of these high-risk families and are persistent in their efforts to build trust and provide the intervention vital to each teen’s progress. Through the parallel process of positive relationships, the intergenerational trajectory of court involvement and early parenting begins to change.