A new phone line aims to help North Texas families with young children connect with available community resources.
The phone line is the newest branch of “Help Me Grow North Texas,” according Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks.
The national organization promotes early childhood development. Brooks played a large role in establishing it locally.
“As president of the National Organization of Counties, every president gets to pick an initiative to focus the resources of the organization on during his or her presidential year,” Brooks said. “Mine was helping address intergenerational poverty by focusing on early childhood development. Early childhood development, in my mind, being the only way to raise people out of poverty.”
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Laura Kender with My Health, My Resources of Tarrant County said initially, they meant to launch the phone line closer to late May or June. However, in light of COVID-19, the timeline was moved up.
“We know that right now, families are facing lots of stresses in their lives that may not typically be stresses that they face,” Kender said. “A lot of times, it is lack of connection and questions that are weighing heavy on our mind but we don’t know who to turn to get those questions.”
Some of the questions they have received so far include how executive orders will impact families. People also call the line, which has early childhood specialists on the end, regarding childcare.
“We’ve had some people that have had concerns about 'in this world of COVID-19, I’m worried about my newborn. Do they go to their visits? I have questions about that.' So, we can connect them with a nurse to give them factual information on immunizations,” Kender said. “We’ve also received calls from families that they just need more activities for their little ones at home. They need some developmental ideals, so we’ve really activated as well – some groups, virtual groups.”
The number to call phone line, which is free, is 1-844-NTX-KIDS or 844-689-5437. It is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Navigators will listen to a family’s needs, link them to resources and develop an action plan together, Kender said. It’s also available to child care providers seeking information, resources, and support related to supporting child development or behavior concerns.
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