COLUMBIA — Each year, many families and new parents in Missouri make unnecessary trips to emergency rooms and health care clinics because they lack basic health care skills and knowledge.
A new Head Start health literacy initiative, "I CAN Help My Child Stay Healthy," hopes to enable families with children enrolled in Head Start nationwide to better utilize the health care system.
The mission is to "give parents the knowledge, confidence and resources to care for common childhood ailments at home" said Ariella Herman, research director and founder of the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute, collaborating with the community action organization to implement the "I CAN" initiative in Missouri.
On Thursday, a team from Central Missouri Community Action will have its first training for parents whose children are part of Head Start in Columbia. Head Start is a federal program for 3- to 5-year-old children from low income families. The Early Head Start Program enrolls low-income families with children under 3 and pregnant mothers.
The training will educate parents about basic care such as recognizing a fever and appropriate tools to measure medicine. Participants will also be given a medical resource manual to provide assistance at home.
Central Missouri Community Action is one of 16 Head Start grantees in Missouri who will help implement this training and plans to reach 250 families within an eight-county area by May and about 1,500 families in Missouri by year's end.
Sponsors and volunteers are welcome to help with the training on Thursday for the initiative and to assist with registration. There will also be another training later in the year.
"We do want to get the community engaged," said Trina Almond, development and communication director for Central Missouri Community Action.
For more information about "I CAN" or to get involved in the training, go to the project's Web site or call Trisha Wright at 443-8706 ext. 292.