SafeCare Colorado helps parents keep children healthy, safe in Routt County |

SafeCare Colorado helps parents keep children healthy, safe in Routt County

SafeCare Colorado, which expanded into Routt County last year, helps families with children under the age of 5. The program focuses on three areas: safety, health and parent-child interactions.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The SafeCare Colorado program expanded into Routt County last year and provides parents with guidance on keeping children healthy and safe.

According to Arin Daigneau, family nutrition, health and safety manager at Northwest Colorado Health, SafeCare Colorado focuses on three important areas — health, safety and parent-child interactions.

The program sends families with children younger than 5 a trained parent support provider to the home for approximately 18 to 20 weeks. The providers meet with the families for about an hour and a half per week.

There are a lot of things that “are not something you innately know,” Daigneau said.

She added that it can be very beneficial to have someone come in and help parents learn this information.

It is a voluntary program, and most often families are referred by community partners, healthcare providers or pediatricians who interact with and can identify families that need a little extra support.

Referrals can also come from family members, and parents can sign up themselves.

Qualifying requires meeting certain risk factors.

“It’s information I think all families can benefit from,” Daigneau said.

In terms of safety, program providers work on identifying potential hazards, Daigneau said. They evaluate the kids and house closely, measuring what kids can reach and what is accessible that may be potentially hazardous.

In 2017, the number one cause of injury deaths for children younger than 1 was unintentional suffocation. For children age 1 to 4, it was unintentional drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are often things people don’t think of, Daigneau said, that could be choking hazards like thumb tacks or small toys. There are also household products that can be dangerous like cleaning products and air fresheners.

The program provides supplies like baby gates, cabinet latches, toilet seat latches and lock boxes for medications.

“It takes very little water for a little one to drown,” Daigineau said.

And supervision, Daigneau said, is the number one way to prevent accidents.

“You can’t always eliminate every hazard,” she said, stressing the importance of supervision.  The goal is prevention, she said, “so that nothing ever happens.”

In terms of health, the program provides families with a comprehensive health manual to guide parents through a step-by-step evaluation to help them decide whether a visit to a doctor is necessary or whether it is an emergency.

The parent-child interaction component of the program is personalized and begins by identifying three areas parents are struggling with, such as bedtime or diaper changing.

The providers help parents identify where the children are at developmentally, so parents know what to expect.

They work with one activity at a time, practicing, modeling and then giving feedback until the activity becomes easier.

Communication is a big part, Daigineau said, even before kids can talk. They show opportunities for “incidental learning” and techniques like giving the child some choices — like whether to wear brown or blue pants or play with blocks or puzzles.

They also help parents find ways to encourage their kids to play independently and safely when the parents need to be otherwise occupied.

“We don’t want there to be a struggle,” Daigineau said.

Reducing stress on both the parents and the children is a big goal, she added. The training and assessment process for the providers in constant and ongoing, Daigneau said, and they follow a very specific curriculum while also determining which tools are best for individual families.

“We know parenting can be both wonderful and stressful,” said Julia Blomberg, SafeCare Colorado program manager. “SafeCare Colorado teaches parents and caregivers ways to keep their children healthy, safe and happy. This program provides critical emotional and social support to a vulnerable population, helping set parents and their children on the path to success.”

For more information or to make a referral, call 970-871-7677.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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