Funding Will Address Maternal Depression in the Northland

Clay County, Missouri — The first five years of life mark the most important period in human development. During this period, children develop foundational skills, including critical social-emotional abilities like controlling emotions and managing relationships. 

With annual funding of $225,337 from the Clay County Community Children’s Service Fund, The Family Conservancy (TFC) will expand their in-home postpartum depression therapy program in Clay County. The award represents a funding increase of $92,035 from 2020. TFC will be able to enroll an additional 48 participants for a total of 96 mothers — impacting an estimated 240 children and reducing the current waitlist. 

CDC research shows that nationally, about 1 in 8 mothers experience symptoms of postpartum depression. A mother with depression may have trouble responding with love and care to her baby, leading to insecure attachments resulting in a range of infant and childhood health and social-emotional impacts which can be lifelong. 

The Family Conservancy’s in-home therapy program, known as Moving Beyond Depression, focuses on enhancing the bond between a baby and their parent  by treating maternal depression, reducing parental stress, and improving parent-child interactions. Through a coordinated referral process with home visiting programs, mothers are screened for depression periodically throughout the prenatal period through infancy. Mothers who screen positive for depression receive encouragement and a referral to participate in the Moving Beyond Depression program.

One past program participant summed up her experience like this, “The hardest part about going through depression when you have kids is not being able to be there for them — being there physically, but not being there emotionally is hard. Having a program that allowed me to improve myself and to get better has made all the difference. Every day I am able to be better and know and see, through my babies, that I am better. If I had never got the chance, I don’t even think about where we would be.” 

The Clay County Children’s Service Fund is the result of a Clay County sales tax that was established in 2017.

Home visiting referral partners include Excelsior Springs, Liberty, North Kansas City, and Smithville School Districts Parents as Teachers programs;  Easterseals Midwest; and The Family Conservancy’s Home-Based Head Start program.

To take advantage of the amazing opportunities that exist early in life, young children need healthy, resilient families. Through this expanded project, Clay County families will build resilience and strengthen caring, nurturing relationships with their children.