#WyoStrong: Family Spirit program helping many families on the Wind River Indian Reservation [Video]
The Wind River Family & Community Health Care Center’s Family Spirit program has helped hundreds of families on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Home visitors provide a curriculum to support young families. Parents gain knowledge and skills to promote healthy development and positive lifestyles for their children through the program.
Kim Clemetson, Supervisor for the Maternal Child Health and Family Spirit Program explained, “we help families secure resources for food, housing. How to make a budget, how to make a realistic goal both long term and short term and the steps to reach that goal, positive parenting, education on healthy pregnancy and importance of prenatal care and making healthy choices. We follow a mother through her pregnancy until that child’s 3rd birthday.”
Currently, there are 70 families actively involved with the Wind River Family Spirit Program. 3 educators assist between 18-35 families each, and there are approximately 800 home visits every year in total.
Clemetson told us that Fremont County has the second highest rate of fetal/infant mortality of babies not making it to their first birthday in the state. She also noted the American Indian population is at a 55% higher risk to deliver prematurely than any other population in Wyoming, per a 2018 March of Dimes report.
“Family Spirit which was developed by John Hopkins has been a proven home visit program that decreases the rate of depression, drug use, premature deliveries and increases parental knowledge and self-efficiency thru a Culturally appropriate curriculum. It was developed on the White Mountain Apache, Navajo and San Carlos reservation in Arizona since 1992. It is the only culturally home visiting program proven using paraprofessionals” Clemetson said.
“Food insecurity and transportation are really an issue. One of the biggest concerns as well is the drug and alcohol problem that plague every county and state, not just the Wind River Reservation.” She continued, “it not only affects the family home structure but the child abuse and neglect rates are climbing at an alarming rate nationwide. Family Spirit strives to instill the Native American culture and traditions back into the families to regain their identity as Native Americans who have a long history of having strong family values.
Wind River Family and Community Health Care also work with Fremont County Public Health, Parents as Teachers program, Early Intervention Program in Fort Washakie, and the Indian Health Services facility in Fort Washakie to help their mission to strengthen families.
Recently, the National Home Visiting Resource Center created a video on the Family Spirit program, check out the full presentation below.