1 out of 13 children in Deventer was born in 2019 in a very vulnerable family. Almost 1 in 10 pregnant women smoked during pregnancy, and more than 13% of pregnant women struggled with psychological or psychiatric problems. These numbers have huge implications. Therefore, children grow up in all sorts of places in Deventer with unreasonable opportunities. Children who have suffered psychological or physical harm in their first 1000 days (from conception to second birthday) which will affect them for the rest of their lives. From mental problems, to physical discomfort and fewer opportunities on the labor market. This had to change, according to various organizations in healthcare, government and education. That is why they joined forces with the Coalition Promising Start Deventer.
‘With Kansrijke Start we bring together professionals, projects and initiatives within social and medical support for vulnerable pregnant women and children in the first 1000 days,’ says Albert Beijen, political advisor Youth and Education and project manager for Kansrijke Start. ‘We ensure that the professionals are more aware of the vulnerabilities of a small child and (future) family, that there is better signalling, and that the professionals can find each other more quickly. This means that, for example, a day care center calls the Youth Care in good time, or an obstetrician calls the children’s health clinic.’
The partners work together to look after (future) parents and children before, during and after the pregnancy. The organizations do this, for example, with the Nu Niet Zwanger, Road Maps and Relation of Parent Child projects.
Not pregnant now
Within the Nu Niet Zwanger program, professionals offer active guidance to vulnerable parents-to-be. It starts with an honest conversation about the desire to have children, sexuality and contraception. The questions, needs and possibilities of the parental environment are considered. Now Niet Zwanger stands for a respectful way of working, where there is never a forced choice. National figures show that 80% of participants postpone their desire to have children as a result of these conversations and choose contraception. This prevents a lot of personal suffering.
But what if you, as a professional, have concerns about a family and don’t know what to do? Who should you contact? What are your responsibilities? And how do you offer help for a busy everyday life? For this purpose, Kansrijke Start developed the timetables. ‘This gives you an overall overview of which step to take in which situation and which organizations you can contact. It is extremely useful for calling the right help as quickly as possible,’ says Beijen.
Relationship Parent Child
The basis for a healthy and happy life for a child is a good relationship with the parent. But it is not always easy. Especially when a parent experiences a lot of stress, has psychological problems or there is poverty or neglect. Parents are supported with the Relation Parent-Child project in creating a good connection and relationship and risk factors are resolved together as soon as possible.
Today, the coalition looks back for the first time on the first 2 years of Promising Start. Albert Beijen sees 2 years in which great successes have already been achieved. ‘An important result is the youth nurses’ walk-in consultation hours at various obstetric practices. Pregnant women can come here, sometimes on the advice of a midwife, with all sorts of questions about the care of their child. Whether it’s about parenting, financial difficulties or social challenges. By involving the pediatric nurse before the birth, a world of support opportunities opens up. It is a good example of how we can bring knowledge together in an accessible way.’
Stable families, happy children
After celebrating successes, the auspicious afternoon ended with a moment of looking ahead. Towards a future where partners get to know each other even better, inspire each other and create new collaborations. It takes a village to raise a child, and Deventer is rising up to make it happen. ‘It comes from the community and everyone is willing to work together and take responsibility. It’s special,’ says Beijen. ‘Hopefully, more organizations will join in the near future so that we can work on effective prevention with an even stronger network. But especially for human successes, stable families and healthy, happy children who face a promising life.’
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