Meet Your Nonprofit - Jefferson Area CHiP

Describe your nonprofit’s mission.
CHiP (the Children’s Health Improvement Program) partners with families to create nurturing home environments and promote the health, well-being, and school readiness of children in our community.

There are approximately 2000 days between birth and the first day of kindergarten. Experiences during these 2,000 days have a lasting impact on later learning, health, and success, so our work is focused on reaching the most vulnerable families with young children right where they live.

What need in our community brought about the creation of your nonprofit?
CHiP recognizes that low-income families have unmet health needs and that barriers such as a lack of access to adequate housing, transportation, and nutritious, affordable food impact health as much as access to direct medical care. In order to meet the health needs of babies and young children, we partner families with with a community health nurse and a family support worker and focus on 1) improving family and child health, 2) promoting positive parent-child interaction and child development, and 3) encouraging family self-sufficiency through employment and connection to community resources.

A growing body of brain research shows that the best opportunity to shape adult outcomes is early — pregnancy through age 2-3 years. And nurse home visiting programs like CHiP have been shown to be among the most effective models ever studied for working with at-risk families.

How has your nonprofit made a difference in our community?
Over the past 26 years, CHiP has served more than 4300 children in more than 2600 families in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Louisa, and Fluvanna. Data shows that after one year with CHiP, 100% of children have a medical home, 89% are up-to-date on well-child visits, and 96% up-to-date on immunizations. Children are being screened for meeting developmental milestones and getting appropriate referrals as needed, and 83% of parents are meeting or exceeding measures for nurturing their children – an essential component of healthy child development. CHiP families are connected to resources that increase their opportunity for employment and reduce their unmet food needs.

How can community members help you achieve your mission?
Community support is critical to achieving our mission. That includes sustained financial support, collection drives for things such as books, diapers, or safety supplies, volunteers for special events like our Human Foosball Tournament or Parenteen socials, and helping share the stories of both the need and the work being done in the community.

Tell us a story that has come out of your work.
When we met Ashley, she was just 15, in foster care, and pregnant. “Most teen-aged mothers are scared about telling their parents. but I didn’t have parents to tell or talk to about it,” she said. She hadn’t sought prenatal care yet and was emotionally paralyzed by the reality of becoming a mother.

Ashley’s CHiP team began by helping her recognize and build on her many strengths. Our nurse provided her with education on prenatal care and assisted her in setting up appointments at UVA’s Teen Health Center.

After baby Noah was born, Ashley worked with her CHiP team to learn newborn care, and her nurse gave her helpful strategies so she could breastfeed Noah while continuing to go to school. Her team supported her as she worked through challenging relationships with her foster family, boyfriend, and grandparents. We also helped Ashley keep Noah on track with his well-child visits, immunizations, and dental care.

Ashley graduated from high school and we honored her strength and resilience as a parent with a CHiP Imagine Award in 2011. Five years later, Ashley has a bachelor’s of science degree from VCU and works as an analyst at UVa. Meanwhile, first-grader Noah is involved in the talented and gifted program and is testing in the top 5% of the nation for math and science.

Ashley adds, “I know that my family wouldn’t be where we are today without the love and advice of our family support worker and nurse. CHiP has been such a blessing to us.”

Learn more about Jefferson Area CHiP

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