New York City expanding home visits for 1st-time parents and their babies

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A new program will expand the home visiting services available to first-time parents in New York City.

First Lady Chirlane McCray announced the New Family Home Visits initiative on Wednesday.

"All parents in our city should have the support they need at the start of their most important journey, and we are taking an exciting new step to make that happen," McCray said. "Home visits are proven to strengthen bonds between parents and their babies, lower the risk for maternal anxiety and depression, and support healthy brain development during a crucial time."

As part of the program, families will be offered up to six home visits.

"I want to make sure that I'm giving him the best chance possible and sometimes I worry am I doing this right," said Marsha Lawrence, a mother of a 2-month-old baby.

First-time parents and their babies will also be provided with comprehensive health education and connection to resources, which will include mental health screenings for anxiety and depression, infant feeding, infant safe sleep and referrals to services such as WIC and SNAP.

"Overcoming those and getting services to help families due that is essential to keeping children safe," Administration for Children's Services Commissioner David Hansell said.

The program will launch this spring in Brooklyn and is aiming to reach all Brooklyn families with their first baby by 2021.

The city plans to invest $43 million a year by 2024 and beyond, with the goal of reaching 45,000 families across the city when fully implemented.

This initiative is in addition to existing home visiting programs including the City's Nurse-Family Partnership, Newborn Home Visiting Program and By My Side Doula Services.

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