Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana’s Nurse-Family Partnership® (NFP) pairs first-time parents with registered nurses who provide ongoing home visits and support to families. However, providing the very best start for children during the earliest, most developmentally critical years often requires support for both NFP Nurse and mother. Many essential resources available to our families and nurses are rooted in the work of the NFP Community Health Workers.
This team maintains outreach and supplies resources to parents, nurses and community partners. Organized by Certified Community Health Worker Jennifer Neff-Whitlow, the October child safety technician course is one example of their work in action. As a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST) herself, Jennifer knew what barriers faced new parents when installing car seats. The lack of qualified technicians was also apparent in southern Indiana.
“What a lot of people do not know is they can’t depend on taking their car seats to a police department, fire station or medical professional to be installed,” said Jennifer.
To serve this need, she helped set up a permanent fitting station in The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, in Clarksville, Indiana, where any child’s caregiver can receive a proper car seat check and installation.
Jennifer has recently become a CPST training instructor, but to complete her training, she needed to teach a child safety technician course. With help from Goodwill NFP administrative manager Marta Fetterman they planned a public training session in October 2022.
Hosted by Goodwill’s NFP and in collaboration with Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and Safe Kids Worldwide, this four-day course was held at Goodwill’s Corporate Office in Indianapolis. It offered eager trainees the opportunity to become child passenger safety technicians themselves.
“The CPSTs learn about the different types of car seats, seat belt systems, rules and regulations, airbags, different types of cars and how to talk with caregivers,” said Jennifer. “They practice their skills during the course in each other’s cars and leave each day exhausted physically and mentally but are excited to come back to learn more.”
The course ended with a car seat clinic, an event that provided families with inspections of their car seats to ensure child passenger safety. With Jennifer’s support, newly certified technicians had hands-on practice, assisting families with their car seat installations and supplying helpful information.
For a dedicated community health worker like Jennifer, training and clinics are not only important to the communities she serves, but they also inspire her.
“In 2012, I became a CPST,” Jennifer said. “I had a client who had a learning difference. I spent several hours showing her how to install her car seat so when she went to the hospital she would be prepared to bring her baby home. When the baby was 3 months old, the client had a car accident on the highway…. The car rolled. The baby was still in her car seat, safe and secure, when the emergency personnel arrived.”
To learn more about Goodwill’s Nurse-Family Partnership, visit goodwillindy.org/health.