Nine years ago, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) began the Healthy Kids Healthy Families program started as a three-year initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of at least one million children through community investments. The program was extended as BCBSTX’s ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of children and families in Texas. The program has impacted the lives of millions of Texas children and families through the more than $14 million in grants awarded by BCBSTX to community organizations statewide. BCBSTX — the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas — is the largest provider of health benefits in the state
BCBSTX recently announced it was awarding $1.8 million from their Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative to 28 community-based organizations statewide. Santa Maria was fortunate to be one of the beneficiary agencies. The grant will support our Caring for Two (CFT) program. This is our first award from BCBSTX.
“This year’s grant process was especially important given the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sheena Payne, BCBSTX’s director of Community Investments. “So, we are happy to award these grants that will support and nurture meaningful and transformational projects across Texas. Strategically, it is also important that we continue to aid community- based organizations that are directly supporting children and families who have been impacted by the health, economic, and social implications of this pandemic.
Indeed, our CFT is one of the most transformative programs in our portfolio. CFT provides evidence-based support, education and tools to help vulnerable families improve their ability to appropriately care for, nourish and interact with their young children. At its’ foundation, CFT promotes healthy infant-child development through improving the home environment and caregiver competencies, attitudes, and behaviors. A crucial component of the work includes improving the mother’s mental and physical health so she is better able to bond with and care for her child. CFT helps mothers sustain long- term recovery from substance use, provides the entire family with education, skills and support to commit to and sustain positive behavioral changes and builds resiliency in children to mitigate trauma. It is a natural extension of our continuum of care and has been experiencing rapid growth since its inception in 2013.
CFT serves women who are pregnant or have children up to 18 months, their children and families. The program engages women as early in pregnancy as possible to help reduce potential health risks to the baby’s developing brain, from maternal alcohol or drug use and to assist the mother in developing the support and skills needed to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for her infant. The program targets lower income women at risk for or using/dependent on alcohol and drugs, including those with co-occurring mental health disorders and histories of trauma.
CFT uses an integrated, multi-disciplinary team, including Parent Coaches (master level counselors or LCDCs), Nurse Health Educators, Peer Recovery Coaches/Linkage Specialists, and a Consultant Physician. Services include parenting education, parent coaching to model positive parenting behaviors, baby safety and infant care, screening for postpartum depression and other behavioral health disorders, peer support, trauma and mental health counseling, health care navigation, care coordination and case management to assist with benefits enrollment, transportation and housing assistance.
Our staff tailors services to each mother-child dyad and family, providing services in individual or group format, at the home or a community based site, to best meet family needs. In addition, CFT works with partner healthcare and social services providers to improve their ability to serve vulnerable families impacted by substance use and/or trauma through the provision of education, training, technical assistance, and onsite support through co-location and integration of services. CFT services are currently provided for the residents of our treatment program as well as at 18 partner locations to improve care access. Due to COVID protocols, a number of our community services now are offered virtually and we are looking forward to the day when we can fully return to the field.
Santa Maria is grateful for the support of this new partner and look forward to a long and productive partnership with of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.