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'I Can' training solves parenting mysteries

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tara Quintana of McCook checks her daughter Lacey's temperature. Tara is one of 50 Head Start parents selected to participate in the "I Can ... Help My Child Stay Healthy" training program sponsored by Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska Head Start.
(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
The baby who sleeps through the night wakes up at 2 a.m., crying inconsolably. The toddler starts tugging at his right ear, and all his peas have disappeared from his lunch plate.

The kindergartner fell off her new two-wheeler and bumped her head, and now all she wants to do is sleep.

The eight-year-old's fever is 102. Or is it 100.2?

Children are always a mystery to their parents -- they don't come with instruction books or guarantees of happy days. And the mystery only deepens when children don't feel good, when they're acting differently.

A new training program being offered to Head Start parents -- called "I Can" -- will help parents decipher the signs of illness and injury, and teach then how to answer the question, "Should I call the doctor?"

"I Can ... Help My Child Stay Healthy" is a parent training program developed by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and health care products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. It has been awarded to Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska Head Start to enable Head Start parents to become better caregivers to their children by improving their health care knowledge and parenting skills.

Mid-Nebraska Head Start is the only program in Nebraska to be awarded the "I Can" program. Mid-Nebraska Head Start is part of a pilot program during which data on its participating 50 families will be compiled for study by UCLAJohnson & Johnson. Family service workers will follow up with the families for three months, and results will be sent to UCLA-Johnson & Johnson, so that the grant program can continue.

UCLA-Johnson & Johnson is providing Mid-Nebraska's Head Start agencies with the tools, the training and the resources to lead health care training programs for its parents.

Head Start team members from Kearney and Sue Beebe and Deb Leach of McCook's Head Start, trained in "I Can" last fall in Atlanta, Ga.

In McCook, on Thursday, Feb. 18, Sue and Deb will share what they learned at "I Can" training with the parents of 50 Head Start families from Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas.

Training will follow the book, "What to Do when Your Child Gets Sick," by registered nurses Gloria Mayer and Ann Kuklierus. The book is filled with tips for making a child's world safe and healthy. In a chapter called, "Taking Care of a Sick Child," parents are taught how to read a thermometer -- whether the digital thermometer is reading 100.2 degrees or 102 degrees. There's also a short list of symptoms that indicate when parents must call the doctor or clinic.

Each chapter -- each health concern -- follows the same outline: What is it? What do I see? What can I do at home? When do I call the doctor or nurse? and, What else should I know about (this situation)?

The book is written for health concerns in children from newborn through eight years old.

Training in keeping kids healthy and safe and in reacting to illness and injury may decrease instances of missed school days for children and missed work days for parents, Beebe said. It will help parents decide when they can handle the situation at home, how to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room or clinic, Beebe said, and when they need to call the doctor.

"One purpose of the training," Beebe said, "is to help keep families from using the emergency room" for primary health care.

Leach added, "This will empower parents to take control of their children's healthcare."

The training may also help reduce escalating health care costs, rising Medicaid spending and overuse of emergency rooms in the United States.

Beebe and Leach are very impressed with the community's response to the "I Can" training sessions.

"The community has been absolutely wonderful," Beebe said. McCook business have provided health- and safety-related door prizes and gifts for parents and children, and McCook Senior High FFA members will provide on-site childcare the evening of the training.

The list of volunteers also includes health professionals -- doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and a school nurse -- who will help at the training. Advanced EMT students from McCook Community College will also attend and help with training.

"We are very excited to have our health professionals attending," Beebe said.

"I Can" training in McCook is offered to 50 Head Start parents, each of whom is encouraged to invite a guest who is part of his/her family support system.

Head Start centers participating in the McCook training will be McCook, North Platte and Ogallala and home-based centers in Chase, Dawson, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hitchcock and Perkins counties in Nebraska and Norton County in Kansas.

For more information about "I Can," contact Beebe and Leach at (308) 345-5468.

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