Nine Charles Co Graduate Program for Healthy Families
On the afternoon of Friday, September 24, nine children from Charles County graduated from the Healthy Families Southern Maryland program at an awards ceremony at Gilbert Run Park in Charlotte Hall where guest speaker, the Maryland State Senator Arthur Ellis, 28eLegislative District, presented the organization with a citation from the Senate of Maryland for its family support program in Charles and Saint Mary’s counties.
Jennifer Fiechtner, program manager for the nationally accredited program, said they currently have 48 families in Charles and St. Mary’s counties enrolled in their program which provides free support to families in the area of pregnancy. the age of three to five when children enter pre-school or Head Start programs.
Senator Ellis said the quote noted the “immeasurable work your organization has done to lead the development of children and families in Charles County. Since 1999, Healthy Families Charles County has offered free programs aimed at empowering our community.
Graduates received certificates and a school backpack, as well as a catered dinner and dessert.
Fiechtner said their program is funded by the Maryland Department of Education and St. Mary’s Department of Health. She added that the organization offers families home visits to teach them about child development, links to community resources for housing and employment supports, educational opportunities and how-to articles. such as diapers.
Fiechtner noted that their program “…partners with the Maryland Diaper Bank to distribute over 2,000 diapers per month to our attendees, and we run a small donation closet with clothes, toys, books and other baby items for our families.
Healthy Families Southern Maryland normally has a staff of seven, although it is currently looking to fill two vacant Family Support Specialist positions.
Fiechtner added: “We normally graduate every year, but we couldn’t do it in 2020 due to the pandemic. This graduation ceremony celebrated all the families who have completed our program since June 2019.
“We had nine graduating children this year from eight families (a set of twins)…. All of the graduating families were from Charles County.”
Healthy Families Southern Maryland was started at the Center for Children in 1999, serving Charles County, and expanded to St. Mary’s County in 2014.