PEPS reaching out to new parents in South Snohomish County

PEPS parenting support groups have expanded into South Snohomish County, including Edmonds. (Photo courtesy of PEPS)

Establishing connections and ending isolation for parents in Snohomish County is the goal of a newly established partnership between the Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS)  and the YMCA of Snohomish County.

For 26 years, PEPS has been providing new parents in King County with the support and education needed to encourage healthy infant development and build the foundation of a stable, functioning family. Now, with support from the Boeing Company, PEPS is further expanding into Snohomish County through a new partnership with the YMCA to offer drop-in support groups in Everett, Mill Creek and Mukilteo.

This new YMCA partnership is in addition to the traditional in-home PEPS groups that are already operating in south Snohomish County — including Edmonds — for parents of newborns to four months who want to connect with others in their same geographical area. To register for in-home groups or to purchase a punch card for drop-in groups, visit the PEPS website at  Drop-in group sessions are $10 each, or $45 for a group of five sessions, purchased in advance on the website, and receipts will be redeemed at the group meeting for session punch cards.  Punch cards are valid for three months after purchase.

“Not long ago, mothers were surrounded by a village that not only helped them care for their new baby, but taught them what they needed to know about parenting skills.  Just by living every day in her village, a young woman learned about nurturing, feeding, diapering and calming a fussy baby,” said PEPS Executive Director Laura Kussick. “Today, new parents often have never seen a woman breastfeed, have never changed a diaper or swaddled a baby and put it to sleep. Most new parents live far from their mothers and relatives and are left on their own. This social isolation from family and, most importantly, from other new parents, can and does have a devastating effect on infant development and the mental health and stability of parents.”

Until PEPS expanded into southern Snohomish County last year with its newborn program, there were few peer-to-peer groups to support new parents. PEPS notes that many Snohomish County families are socially isolated; the cities are decentralized and many Snohomish County families have listed King County zip codes on their application forms in order to be placed in PEPS groups. Therefore, PEPS identified Snohomish County as an area that would benefit greatly from its infant development and community-building resources, and has partnered with the YMCA to help facilitate the expanded service offerings.

Each week parents of children aged five to 18 months can participate in facilitated drop-in meetings at their neighborhood YMCA to begin building community and support. Groups are $10 per session, and participants can come as many times as they like.  For many new parents, their PEPS Group becomes an extended family, a supportive community and frequently, a lifeline.  PEPS strives to provide parents an environment that fosters open dialogue, dynamic group interaction and a common foundation from which to build new friendships.

In the weekly drop-in  meeting, each PEPS group leader guides a discussion and provides participants with resources related to a wide range of infant health, development and parenting issues that focus on subject such as:  sleep, feeding, early learning development, making the decision to work or stay home, childcare, self care for parents, and postpartum mood disorders.

“We know that through this partnership we can have a profound effect on the way new parents build community, while gaining the knowledge they need to raise emotionally healthy children,” said YMCA of Snohomish County President and CEO Scott Washburn, “Programs like this are directly in line with the values that the YMCA embraces in our community, and we are pleased to partner with an organization that has such an outstanding track record of success.”

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