For the past 5 years, Project Katishtya Eh-wahs Valued Always (KEVA) Tribal Home Visiting Program has provided parenting education and support to San Felipe Pueblo pregnant women and first-time parents. The KEVA approach is culturally based and specific to family needs.
“Our families, especially our younger families, have many things to consider when raising their child,” said Jenae Sanchez, KEVA Program Coordinator. “There has been a big influx of western characteristics into the community. Families may have to go to the nearby cities of Albuquerque or Santa Fe for jobs. This presents new challenges in language and cultural maintenance that our ancestors were not faced with. Families are protective of their traditional heritage and want to preserve our language by teaching it to their children. Project KEVA supports parents through their struggles with parenting. The program also provides families with cultural lessons that address many of their challenges.”
The Project KEVA Tribal Home Visiting Program is supported by grants from the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI). These grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Project KEVA works with other tribal early childhood programs, especially Head Start, and child care.
“We have many programs and resources within the tribal organization available to families. In order for us to help families, we needed to make sure that programs were aware of one another and the services that each one offers,” Sanchez said. “The more that we learned about each other, the higher our willingness became to work together and with other programs in the community. We realized that we’re coming from the same place and we wanted the same end for our families.”
These interagency conversations led to the development of a “child passport.” The passport is a tangible, family-focused approach to collaboration. For families, the passport provides a guide to child development and resources. It includes contact information for the various programs. The passport also serves as a family’s “central file” for keeping track of child health visits, immunizations, height, weight, and other health-related issues. The passport makes it easier for families to share complete and up-to-date information across the various agencies they work with. This, in turn, helps agencies better coordinate their services for each family.
The home visiting program staff created the passport from a template they purchased. The template came from a source specializing in early childhood resources. The staff customized the cover page and added local graphics. This work finalized the program directory.
“We rolled out the passports a few months ago, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from our families about how it’s impacted them,” Sanchez said. “They like that the passport has everything in one handy booklet. In addition to being a resource directory and health record, there are a lot of teaching points as far as what to expect when your child is 12 months, 18 months, and so on. We don’t just give them the passport, but our family health educators also talk about how to use it.”
Project KEVA staff are grateful and hopeful when they reflect on the past 5 years. “We’ve worked hard to develop and deliver a program that is culturally relevant, strengths-based, and empowering, making sure that we’re meeting families where they need to be met. Each family is special, and they all have their own story, so we try to harness the strengths of each family and use that to guide our work. Having staff that are caring, nonjudgmental, and want to see the best outcomes for our children is also a special value to our program. We’ve come so far in developing a solid program, and it has the potential to continue to grow and develop into a treasure for the community.”
For more information, contact Jenae Sanchez, Program Coordinator, at Jsanchez@sfpueblo.com or 505-771-9910.
ACF’s Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program provides grants to tribal entities to develop, implement, and evaluate home visiting programs in American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities. The grants are intended to help develop and strengthen tribal capacity to support and promote the health and well-being of AIAN families, expand the evidence base around home visiting in tribal communities, and support and strengthen cooperation and linkages between programs that serve tribal children and their families. Find out more about the Tribal Home Visiting program and grantees.
ACF’s Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI) supports American Indian tribes in growing and sustaining critical early childhood systems to meet the needs of young children, families, and the community as a whole and increase the number of children in quality early care and education settings. The TELI is administered by ACF’s Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development, in partnership with the Office of Head Start, the Office of Child Care, and the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. Find out more about TELI.