Participants of local programs, such as Putnam County's Healthy Families and Domestic Violence programs, are working to improve the lives of families within the community.
Many of these families struggle to make ends meet, and items many people take for granted, such as baby wipes, "clear" or baby laundry detergent, among other items, are luxuries.
Participants who had been enrolled in other counties' Healthy Families programs expressed disappointment initially when it was learned that Putnam County did not have an incentive program such as Baby Bucks.
However, Putnam County Family Support Services will now provide a similar service to its participating families in both the Healthy Families and Domestic Violence programs, and the program has been met with good response.
Participants earn vouchers for achievements such as completing home visits, attending support groups, taking their child to well child check-ups and immunizations, having their child screened for developmental delays, and achieving goals the family has set for itself.
When one of these is accomplished, the family's support worker or advocate presents the family with a specified number of vouchers. The family may come into the office to shop with their vouchers or have their support worker or advocate shop for them from a list of items.
In just a few months, families have shown a high demand for the vouchers. The programs have seen an increase in commitment from families to meet with their support worker or advocate regularly and families are achieving more of their goals.
While the voucher program provides incentives to the family, it encourages participants to take strides in improving their family's situation.
A year in the making, the program was initially stocked in part by the staff and Board of Putnam County Family Support Services.
During the annual board meeting, the staff and board had a "baby shower," donating items such as diapers, clothes, teething rings, wipes, in addition to various other items.
St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church also conducted a drive, setting out a playpen as a "drop box," for donations.
In addition, other community service organizations also had "baby showers" or donation drives.
However, the donations have dwindled and additional support is needed.
Community members can help encourage family growth by dropping off donations Sept. 5-22 at the following locations during regular business hours: Putnam County Family Support Services, 24 W. Washington; City Hall, 1 N. Locust St.; The Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart plaza; or Kroger, Indianapolis Road.
In Cloverdale, donations may be dropped off during regular business hors at CCRTC, 2 N. West St. In Roachdale, donations may be dropped off at the Roachdale Grocery, 11 E. Washington St.
Items in high demand are diapers (sizes 1-6), baby wipes, laundry detergent (Dreft or "Free and Clear"), teething rings, pacifiers, snack cups, new children's books, new bottles and sippy cups, toddler forks and spoons, child proofing items (door knob covers, outlet plugs, cabinet locks, etc.) and monetary donations to assist in purchasing new items.
Organizations or groups looking for an opportunity to support community need and growth are also needed to host "baby showers," or "diaper drives."
For more information, call Jennifer Stranger, Healthy Families Program Manager, at 653-4820.