Vital Supports for New and First-Time Parent Create Opportunities

When Tianna found herself pregnant at just 17 years of age, her school nurse referred her to Worcester Community Action Council’s (WCAC) Healthy Families of Southern Worcester County program.  The program provides home visits with an experienced Family Support Advocate to educate and guide expectant and new parents to develop skills that will move them to self-sufficiency and help them raise a healthy family. The program has a positive impact on both maternal and child health, preventing child abuse and neglect, improving child well-being, family functioning and parent well-being. For Tianna it meant access to tremendous resources – everything from what to expect from her changing body to how to quiet a fussy infant, as well as guidance on getting her driver’s license, employment resources, clothing thru the Baby Boutique and more.

Today, her daughter, Kaylianna, is a happy, healthy toddler – almost three years old. Tianna juggles her responsibilities as a mother along with two jobs thanks to a supportive family and ongoing guidance from her Healthy Families Advocate.

For the past two years, Tianna has been able to utilize the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program which WCAC offered for the first time to Healthy Families participants in 2015. Utilizing IRS-certified volunteers, the program provides free income tax preparation. “Instead of having to pay to get my taxes done, I was able to get them done for free,” she said. “Not everyone has that opportunity. Getting everything from my return helps to save money which is important when you’re struggling.”   The $5,300 return she received this tax season was promptly deposited in the bank.  She is saving up for a car and other needs for her young daughter.

WCAC’s Healthy Families program serves first-time parents (moms and dads) of any age from pregnancy through their child’s third birthday, residing in 17 communities located in southern Massachusetts. All services are voluntary and free of charge with no income guidelines. Click HERE for more info.

WCAC is a partner in the Worcester Tax Free Services Coalition, a collaboration of businesses, financial institutions and non-profit organizations who work to promote free income tax credit benefits to low and moderate income working individuals and families as a strategy to build household assets and increase economic self-sufficiency.The VITA program operates January – April each year. Click HERE for more info.