Green light for new project to give Hartlepool babies the best possible start in life
A new group to support vulnerable parents and help give babies the best start in life in Hartlepool has been have given the go-ahead by councillors.
Representatives on Hartlepool Borough Council Finance and Policy Committee praised the move to form the group to help tackle child and family poverty.
The plan will involve delivering an initiative over a 12-month period which promotes 'the best start in life' for babies by offering equipment and a training programme to parents.
Coun Leisa Smith, chair of the children's service committee, said: "I agree with this completely and wholeheartedly, I think it's a fantastic thing to do.
"It will also help the vulnerable to engage with the activities that we want them to."
The plan is to pilot a group for vulnerable parents who are encouraged to attend by receiving appropriate equipment that will keep their baby safe and benefit both parents and baby.
Suggested items include Moses baskets, safe bedding, accident prevention and first aid equipment such as fire guards and thermometers.
Sally Robinson, director of children's and joint commissioning services at the council, said the scheme will aim to provide the best start in life to those in need.
She said: "The proposal is to pilot a group for vulnerable parents and that we incentivise them to attend by receiving appropriate items and equipment that will help to keep their baby safe and also to provide the best possible start to both parent and baby."
Ms Robinson added the council is also talking with shops and other organisations to see if they can contribute any items towards the scheme.
Coun Shane Moore, council leader, stressed the importance of having such programmes to support people in the town
He said: "We have to have schemes like this in place because you can spend as much as you want on sex education and everything before hand, but we will still have these children to look after so it's about making sure these things are in place to look after them."
Identified parents invited to attend the group would receive a targeted pregnancy birth and beyond antenatal intervention which would aim to strengthen both their parenting and relationship with their babies.
Referrals will be made by the council working with midwifery and health assistant services.
Equipment would also help prevent unintentional and accidental injuries among babies in Hartlepool families.
Updates on how the pilot project is going will be reported back to future Finance and Policy Committee meetings later this year.