Healthy Start Northwest Tennessee

Healthy Start, Northwest Tennessee is a home-visitation program. It is designed to help first-time parents with children from birth to three years of age better meet the challenges and adjustments of family life. The program is carried out through The University of Tennessee at Martin, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and is funded through state and federal family preservation/family support dollars.

Healthy Start's focus is:

  • to identify families in need of support
  • to build trusting family relationships
  • to promote positive parent-child interaction
  • to promote healthy childhood growth and development

Services are free of charge. Participation is voluntary for eligible families. For more information on eligibility, please call (731) 881-7863. Healthy Start serves Benton, Carroll, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion, and Weakley counties. Services include:


Family Support

Family support coordinators will provide information and educational materials on:

  • mother's health
  • attachment and bonding
  • confidence in parenting skills
  • growth and development
  • health and medical care

Family Health, Personal Needs

The birth of a baby causes many physical and emotional changes. A home visitor will assist parents by answering questions about their feelings and health needs. Parent concerns about the following are covered:

  • fatigue and loss of sleep
  • physical and emotional changes
  • enhancing self-esteem
  • changes in relationship with spouse or significant other and siblings

Attachment & Bonding

Encouragement of positive parent-child interaction helps establish a strong initial bond between the primary caregiver and infant. One important goal of the home visitor in the first weeks and months of the infant's life is to help the mother, father or other primary caregiver bond with the infant. Topics include:

  • trust building
  • holding and touching baby
  • making eye contact
  • talking to your baby
  • bonding between mother, father, and baby
  • developing parent-infant love

Confidence in Parenting Skills

Knowing how to care for an infant can relieve some of the stress involved with having a new baby and can give parents confidence. Home visitors may address the following:

  • when and how to feed your baby
  • sleeping patterns
  • crying and consoling
  • changing and bathing your baby
  • how your feelings affect your baby
  • coping with colic
  • keeping infants safe
  • involving father in parenting

Health & Medical

One of the best results of appropriate parenting is a healthy child. Materials are provided that will help the home visitor teach parents about the health needs of their children. Resources included are:

  • immunization schedules
  • growth chart
  • where to go for help in your community
  • what to do in an emergency
  • well-child care schedule
  • how to prepare for a doctor's visit

Growth & Development

The first months and first few years of children's lives are critical in their growth and development. Assistance provided for new parents includes information about their children's development, what to expect, what is "normal," and what babies can do. Some topics are:

  • how to play with your baby
  • supporting your baby's cognitive and emotional development
  • major milestones in physical development
  • ensuring realistic expectations of baby's development

Career Opportunities

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