Baby U Family Program Offers New Approach to Parenting


3/10/2011

baby U picture

Recently, 26 families from Area IV, East Cambridge and Wellington-Harrington neighborhoods of Cambridge graduated from the City’s exciting new Baby U program.  Mayor David P. Maher, City Councilor Kenneth E. Reeves, Cambridge Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Young and Greg Russ, Executive Director of Cambridge Housing Authority, congratulated graduates on their completion of the program. 

Graduate Samara Riley gave a heart-felt speech that brought audience members to tears about her experience in Baby U.  As a mother of five girls ranging in ages from 18 months to 12 years old, Samara talked about how she thought she knew it all, but left Baby U with a new approach to parenting.  She now uses some of Baby U’s key messages such as “Connect before you correct” or “Get curious, not furious.”  Graduates like Samara have described Baby U as “life-changing.”  As one mother said, “Baby U has meant everything to me…Baby U has helped me to be more sociable and be a better parent.”

Baby U started as a vision in 2008 after several City officials took a tour of Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City.   Shortly after the trip, the City Council Sub-Committee on Human Services began exploring what it would take to create such a program here.  The early childhood community and its partners developed a program befitting Cambridge’s collaborative nature.  Instead of being spear-headed by one agency, Baby U is run by 14 different agencies.  Partners dedicate not only their time to create, implement and revise the program based on evaluation data, but also donate their agencies’ resources. 

As a result of their work, Baby U became a reality in 2010.  It is a free 16-week program for Cambridge families who have at least one child three or younger or are expecting a baby.  It is 10 weeks of workshops focused on the latest research on raising children, followed by six weeks of playgroups and culminating in a graduation ceremony that family and community members are invited to attend.  During the program, attendees receive free childcare, transportation to and from the Saturday meetings, home visits and the opportunity to win developmentally-appropriate toys for their children and gift cards to Market Basket.  Those who attend at least 80% of the sessions are entered into a drawing for an $800 prize; the lucky winner for this last round was Carolina Machado.  The third session of Baby U, for families in the Cambridgeport and Riverside neighborhoods, began on Saturday, February 26.

For more information, contact: Lei-Ann Ellis at lellis@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-6203.
     

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