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Early Start – a community’s healthy living program for moms, babies

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News, Uncategorized

Published on June 21, 2018 with No Comments

All photos provided by Celine Tucker From left, Sibo Llano and Dr. Sonya Williams consulting each other about the Early Start Program.

For nearly two decades, Sibo Llano has devoted her career to the well-being of moms and babies at Mental Health America of Lake County. Sibo is the Early Start coordinator and she is partnering with HealthLinc East Chicago to assist with MHALC’s goal to reduce infant mortality.

The Early Start program is a free voluntary program that is designed to help women receive the support and services they need to have a healthy baby.

“By handing out flyers and vouchers and speaking one-on-one with pregnant women, I am able to educate them on our parent support programs,” said Llano. “Giving people the opportunity to succeed in having a healthy pregnancy and baby is my top priority.”

All photos provided by Celine Tucker | From left, Guadalupe Gonzalez and Sibo Llano review policies of the Early Start Program

The Early Start program originated when MHALC recognized in 2017 that Indiana had the eighth highest infant mortality rate in the United States, with seven deaths per 1,000 live births. The program is primarily focused in East Chicago because the 46312 zip code has the highest infant mortality rate in the state.

Llano started her career with MHALC as a family support specialist in 1999. Nineteen years later, Llano travels the community, reaching out to women who are pregnant to promote and enroll women in the Early Start Program.

“I wanted to work in this position because I am a member of the community and I am also bilingual, which helps me connect to moms,” said Llano. “I genuinely enjoy helping people and supporting families that are a part of the community.”

To ensure that everyone receive the care they need, the Early Start program offers a free screening plan to ensure optimal individualized care and referrals.

Dr. Sonya Williams stated, “It is so inspiring to see the commitment Early Start has in providing quality services to our patients. My team and I do our best to make sure every patient who qualifies for the programisgiven the opportunity to obtain services.”

“We just want to be out there and be known for giving people options and affordable care,” said Llano.”

As MHALC works alongside HealthLinc East Chicago through The Early Start program, it remains a safe place to help women and their families become the best parents they can be.

Mental Health America of Lake County can be contacted at 219-937-7733 with questions about all their parenting programs and referral services, or visit the website at www.mhalakecounty.org.

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