In the past 25 years, the Low Birth Weight Development Center has served over 3000 low birth weight children and parents. This program has proved beneficial for 100% of the participants.
The parents increase their economic circumstances, self-esteem and outlook on life, become more interactive with one another and their children, and improve their communication skills.
The children benefit from neurological stimulation, verbal interactions and movement to help them develop socially, emotionally and intellectually.
In addition, no subsequent very low birth weight babies have been born to previous program participants.
Both parents and children are able to become contributing community members as a result of these program benefits.
Meet Some of Our Graduates...
A Picture of Christopher in the NNICU...
Christopher in 8th Grade
This is Christopher today. Weighing just over one pound at birth, he spent his first three months of life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Under the care of skilled medical professionals this tiny baby survived -- to be sent home with his teen-age mother. While he was still in the hospital, a Low Birth Weight Development Center representative met with this mother, answered her questions about his care, visited her at home to make sure she had what she needed for the baby, talked with her about her own personal goals, and enrolled them both in the Low BIrth Weight Development Center. Today, Christopher is class president and, as a high school student, is enrolled in a pre-engineering program at a local college. -- proof that the right kind of early intervention can set a child on the footpath to a bright future.There are many other children like Christopher, born too soon, fighting to survive, and awaiting their chance for success.
This Low Birth Weight Development Center Parent Graduate was once a struggling teen mother of a high-risk extremely low birth weight baby born under 3 lbs. She benefited from the parenting and educational programs and resources available to her at the Low Birth Weight Development Center. She came back to visit this day to thank the founder of the center, Liz Heyne, and show her the High School Diploma and Associates Degree she has earned. Her low birth weight child is now in elementary school and doing well thanks to her dedicated mother doing all she can to provide the best for her child.
Founder and President, Liz Heyne with Low Birth Weight Development Center Graduate
Recent Examples of How Our NNICU Safety Net Program Has Worked
Little Jose (not his real name) was born at 28 weeks (instead of the typical 40 weeks) and was sent home from the NNICU with a feeding tube since he neurologically could not eat by mouth. The mother Maria (not her real name) was having real difficulties handling her child's intense medical and care needs and getting him to put on weight. Our home health visitors, Nora Franco and Carolina Salazar, made contact with Maria out in the home and discovered that they did not have electricity and the infant's weight was dropping to dangerous levels. The mother is now getting individual counseling, parenting guidance and social work assistance, to help make the home environment more appropriate for a fragile extremely premature infant. Little Jose is now starting to gain weight and thriving thanks to the NNICU Safety Net Program funded by the March of Dimes and the work of The Low Birth Weight Development Center Staff.
Kimberly (not her real name) is 19 years old and after her baby was discharged from the NNICU, the pressures of handling the intense medical and care needs of her extremely premature infant brought on severe depression. Her feelings were of detachment and disinterest in her infant as a result of their time apart while being cared for in the NNICU and feeling inexperienced and unable to care for her child. When this was discovered by our home health visitors, Kimberly was enrolled in the group sessions at the Low Birth Weight Development Center and received individual couseling from the UT Southwest Medical Center Psyciatric Fellows under the supervision of Libby Kay, LMSW as part of the NNICU Safety Net funded by The March of Dimes at the Low Birth Weight Clinic. After weeks of treatment, her depression is gone and she now reports she feels great love and attachment for her baby. Her confidence as a parent has improved and she indicated that it was the group therapy that helped her and she encourages other mothers like her to join the program.
And There Are So Many Others...
Twin Hispanic girls who participated in the Low Birth Weight Development Center Programs as infants are now age 12, doing well in school and functioning at their appropriate grade level. Their mother completed her GED and now works for the Juvenile Detention Center. She is also in college earning a bachelor’ s degree.
A Caucasian teen mother who was previously involved in substance abuse placed her low birth weight baby for adoption. She joined the Low Birth Weight Development Center Programs, improved her life circumstances and received pro bono legal assistance to successfully have some minor legal charges dropped. This young woman completed her GED and is now employed by a mortgage company. She married a long-time friend and had another child of somewhat low weight, but within normal limits.
A third-grade African American boy with well-controlled asthma is thriving. His mother completed her GED and took business classes while involved at the Low Birth Weight Development Center, and is now employed at Bank of America.