Families First RI is a grassroots non-profit organization that pairs moms of infants with highly trained Volunteer Mentor Moms.
Some of our moms may be coping with the typical challenges associated with caring for an infant, and possibly older children. Some of these challenges may include balancing the expectations of work and family, financial stress, health issues, or single parenting. Other moms may be experiencing, or are at risk for, postpartum depression (PPD), or an anxiety disorder. Some of our moms who are pregnant may also feel depressed, anxious or isolated.
The mission of Families First is to provide in-home psychiatric evaluations, treatment referrals, social support, and parenting education to women who are experiencing, or who are at risk for, depression. Pregnant women and those in the postpartum year are referred to us by hospitals, visiting nurses and psychiatrists. Families First addresses the challenges of postpartum adjustment and the risks of maternal depression by providing peer mentoring through weekly home visits with our trained and supervised volunteers, as well as social and educational gatherings.
The goal of the program is to restore confidence in the mother by offering her non-judgmental support, and to promote supportive relationships within her community. Our services are free of charge to families throughout the state, regardless of insurance status.
Depression during pregnancy and postpartum depression are both major health concerns, with depression being the number one complication of childbirth. In fact, 14-25% of pregnant women develop clinical depression and 15-20% of childbearing women develop postpartum depression. This statistic rises by as much as 45% in poorer and more vulnerable populations. The stress of depression can have a negative effect on other family members, particularly other children in the household. “When the mental health of the mother is compromised, it affects the entire family.” (Postpartum Support International, postpartum.net).
Our services are modeled after the Visiting Moms Program developed by the Newton Jewish Family Services in Newton, Massachusetts which has successfully served the Boston community for 19 years.
Families First RI was launched in late 2007, and matched our first Mentor to a mom in January, 2008. Since then, we have seen and matched twice as many moms as we had expected to, but happily, interest in our grassroots community-based program keeps growing. We know from the feedback we receive, that our Mentor Moms feel a great sense of satisfaction from the time they spend with their new “families.” For some of our moms, their Mentor mom is the greatest gift – second only to her growing family
Our office space and move was made possible through a gift from the Jacober family.Our gathering room is being dedicated to the late Karen Jacober, a dedicated volunteer who passed away in 2006. “She held my hand into the joy of motherhood.” Ellie Dos Santos (a mom who Karen mentored.)