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COLUMN:Our community needs Healthy Families

- In its strategic vision, Prince William County prides itself on being “a community of choice with a strong, diverse economic base, where families and individuals choose to live and work.” With this commitment to thriving communities, we want to make sure that our most vulnerable of neighbors are not left behind.

The Plains may host Eventing worlds next summer

- The Great Meadow Foundation in The Plains has applied to host the first-ever Nations Cup of Eventing to be held in the U.S. Applications closed April 3, when proposals were due to the governing U. S. Equestrian Federation, based in Lexington, Ky.

Arts Alive! comes to Hylton

- The Prince William County Arts Council and the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas will present “Arts Alive!” on May 2 from 12 to 4 p.m. The free, family-friendly arts festival will be held at the Hylton Center, 10960 George Mason Circle in Manassas.

Great Meadow goes global

- The Great Meadow Foundation in The Plains has big plans for the future of the sport of three-day eventing and for the economic growth of the region. Great Meadow President Robert Banner wants to use the park to host the first Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Nations Cup of Eventing ever held in America.

COLUMN:Call to Action - Administrative volunteers are needed

- Good morning Prince William! Volunteers are needed for admin positions in Manassas. The Court Service Unit would love your help during traditional business hours helping with screening of individuals seeking protective orders, custody, visitation as well as help answering the phones and filing.

COLUMN:Indian herbs and spices for your health

- Welcome to the inaugural column of what I hope will be many more on health and wellness for health-conscious readers. Have you ever wondered what you could eat to help you improve your health without spending an exorbitant amount of money on costly nutritional supplements?

Bristow powerhouse

- Brookfield Residential’s newly unveiled PureBlue Home is an experiment in energy efficiency. The model, now open in the Avendale community in Bristow, is designed to test the latest energy-efficient technologies to find out whether it’s possible to build an ultra-efficient home that’s also comfortable and affordable for everyday homebuyers

Tourism officials seek funding, support

- You've got to spend money to make money and members of the community's tourism industry are looking for some help in that arena. Last Friday, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Impact of Tourism luncheon, where panelists from state and local tourism groups discussed its significance to he community and pushed for legislative priorities and business support.

WWII planes take to the skies

- The Manassas airshow will be held on May 2 and will feature performances by the Third Dimension Parachute Team, the American Helicopters Demonstration Team, Andrew McKenna P-51 and T-6 Aerobatics, the Flying Circus Stearman Flight, Scott Francis MXS Aerobatics, Jack Knutson Extra 300 Aerobatics, Matt Chapman CAP 580 Aerobatics, Randy Devere CJ-6 Aerobatics and there will be an RC Modeler Jet demonstration.

Montclair Library construction under way

- Dumfries community members moved one step closer to the opening of the new Montclair Community Library with the recent completion of the library's 35,996-square-foot open parking garage. The garage was designed by the Lukmire Partnership and built by general contractor KBE Building Corp. on undeveloped land at 5049 Waterway Drive in Dumfries

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COLUMN:Our community needs Healthy Families

Agee, Mary
In its strategic vision, Prince William County prides itself on being “a community of choice with a strong, diverse economic base, where families and individuals choose to live and work.”

With this commitment to thriving communities, we want to make sure that our most vulnerable of neighbors are not left behind.

Unfortunately, the proposed elimination of a program called Healthy Families may save a fraction of a percent on this year’s budget, but may wind up costing the county far more in current state funding and future mandated and emergency services.

Healthy Families, a program of Northern Virginia Family Service, is a child abuse prevention program. By visiting pre-natal and newborn parents in their homes, family support workers can teach positive parenting skills, optimize child health and promote school readiness.

Currently, the program serves 126 families, 89 percent of whom have moved off TANF and food subsidies since enrolling in the program – with just $175,134 from the county.

Overall, Healthy Families has helped more than 2,000 local families since 1996. Most people admit that parenting is the hardest job they’ve ever had.

Even in a loving, committed relationship with financial resources and good coping skills, being a parent is tough.

Now imagine overburdened parents, those with no partner or family support, who have lost their home or their job, who face constant financial pressure, or who suffer from chronic mental or physical health issues.

Healthy Families offers support to families on the brink to help them become successful. People generally raise their children the way they were raised, repeating patterns learned in their own upbringing.

Family support workers, who observe parents in their home environment, give parents the tools to break these generational patterns of abuse and neglect.

And because NVFS has a continuum of services and network of partners in the community, our family support workers often refer parents to additional supports such as health and dental care, workforce training and transportation, services they might not otherwise have access to, further compounding their ability to be good parents.

The county’s support of Healthy Families also leverages an additional $245,000 in funding from the Commonwealth, which is in jeopardy of being lost.

In addition, economists have calculated that for every dollar invested in Healthy Families, at least $4 is saved in interventions.

Consider these economic ramifications for eliminating this program today:

* In Virginia, it costs $15,000 to hospitalize a premature or low birth weight baby.

* Healthy Families Prince William children have a regular medical provider and, last year, 91 percent of children were up-to-date on immunizations, helping to prevent chronic problems and keep health care costs in check.

* When a child experiences developmental delays, special education services average $12,900 a year in mandated services for one child.

* Healthy Families Prince William children are routinely screened for developmental delays. In FY 2014, 86 percent of children were on target for developmental milestones and 100 percent of those with suspected delays were referred for early intervention services.

* When the County needs to intervene with child placement services, it costs $43,800 per child for one year in foster care in Virginia.

* In FY2014, 96 percent of Healthy Families Prince William parents demonstrated positive parenting skills and 99 percent of families had an optimal home environment to support child development.

* Child abuse victims may seek treatment costs of more than $1 Million over the course of their lifetime.

*Last year, 100 percent of Healthy Families parents had no substantiated case of child abuse or neglect.

When you start to add up these numbers, the elimination of the Healthy Prince William just doesn’t add up.

We would encourage Prince William County to take another look at this program, or expect budget requests across the board: schools, health, family services and police will all be paying the price tomorrow for decisions made today.

As University of Chicago Professor and Nobel Laureate in economics James Heckman said in regard to early childhood, “The question is not where to cut. The question is where to invest, and in what.”

We urge the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to protect funding for this vital program, and invest in families and our community’s future.

-Mary Agee is the president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Family Service. She has led the nonprofit for the past 27 years and has been with the organization since 1972.
More Local News

COLUMN:Our community needs Healthy Families

The Plains may host Eventing worlds next summer

Arts Alive! comes to Hylton

Great Meadow goes global

COLUMN:Call to Action - Administrative volunteers are needed

COLUMN:Indian herbs and spices for your health

Bristow powerhouse

Tourism officials seek funding, support

WWII planes take to the skies

Montclair Library construction under way

SERVE seeks help to give help

Bar Association aids first responders

Prince William Guide



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