Apr 07, 2021 11:01 AM

DSNWK's Fam-Link helps parents build bonds with infants, toddlers

Posted Apr 07, 2021 11:01 AM
Natalie Ellis with her son works with Fam-Link parent coach Fransis Schmidt.
Natalie Ellis with her son works with Fam-Link parent coach Fransis Schmidt.

By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays Post

A new program under the umbrella of DSNWK helps parents form better relationships with their children and boost brain development.

Fam-Link, which is in its first year, is free for families with children 6 to 24 months.

The program provides attachment and biobehavior catch up. The 10-week free program seeks to enhance the parents' or caregivers' bonds with their children.

Caregivers meet with the coaches for about one hour per week. Parents can choose to participate in the program through home visits or virtually. When the family competes the course, they receive a free keepsake video montage taken from the sessions.

The coaches help parents identify the signals their children are giving the caregiver and how the caregiver responds to the child, said Franses Schmidt, parent coach.

The child-caregiver bond is critical for brain connection and development, Schmidt said.

By picking up a child who is crying, that shows the child they can rely on their parent. The program helps the children learn emotional regulation that will help them later when they attend school, Schmidt said.

A child who is not talking yet communicates through facial expressions or they may turn away from the caregiver, Schmidt said.

"During a time like this with the pandemic, times can be stressful," Schmidt said. "Your child might cry and cry and cry. You might not know how to calm them down."

The coaches give caregivers ideas on how they can nurture their children.

"The take away from attachment and biobehavior catch up, is that it is really uplifting for the parent and enhances the bond between the child and parent or caregiver," Schmidt said.

The program has two parent coaches who serve nine Northwest Kansas counties — Ellis, Russell, Rooks, Phillips, Smith, Osborne, Norton, Graham and Trego counties.

The program initially took families who were referred by the Kansas Department of Children and Families. However, the program has now been opened to all families.

"Really, it is a program that is good for a new parent or someone just looking for parenting techniques, because it is really just working on how to respond to your child and building that bond," Schmidt said.