Pisgah Health Foundation Grant

Pisgah Health Foundation Grant Award

Smart Start of Transylvania County (SSTC) wishes to express sincere and significant thanks to the Pisgah Health Foundation for funding that was recently awarded to aid two ambitious initiatives for GetSet Transylvania. The mission of Pisgah Health Foundation is to “purposefully, creatively and collaboratively enhance the health and well-being of our communities by addressing local health and wellness inequities through strategic and meaningful partnerships” (https://pisgahhealthfoundation.org). Smart Start’s mission aligns greatly with the Pisgah Health Foundation’s thus creating a special collaboration in efforts to champion those most in need within the community. 

The Pisgah Health Foundation is a public 501 (c)(3) charity founded in 2019, by a board of seven caring individuals focused on improving the health, wellness and lives of western North Carolina residents. The organization evolved out of the Transylvania Regional Hospital Foundation. Pisgah Health Foundation's drive is to improve health and wellness by addressing healthy opportunities in targeted social determinants of health areas including Health, Food Insecurity, Housing, Social Cohesion and Education. Board Members include Cathleen Blanchard; Dave Neumann, Esq; Jamie Ramsey, MD; Jeremy Purcell, Art Fisher; Jim Tyson, MD; Jim Wright, MD. Lex Green, CPA serves as President. To learn more, please visit www.pisgahhealthfoundation.org.

This grant has provided immense support for the GetSet toolkit project as well as significantly stimulated the beginning implementation of the evidence-based Family Connects model (http://www.familyconnects.org/evidencebase) in Transylvania County. 

The intent of GetSet Transylvania is to fully equip our youngest citizens for success in life. GetSet Transylvania is an engaged community that values our young children and their families and strives to achieve the best educational, health and developmental outcomes by creating nurturing, supportive, collaborative community based resources. 

The Family Engagement Toolkits helps move the needle on achieving this goal as a way to reach children and families and encourage skill development in early childhood language and literacy skills, which are key factors in the education social determinants of health. These toolkits are cost-free to families and caregivers with young children (ages 0-5) and provide a Sesame Street-themed book, local resource information and fun extra items (such as toys and games) revolving around a specific topic relevant to families with young children. These topics range from trauma and resilience, health and hygiene, early literacy, and caring and sharing among others. The toolkits highlight activities and opportunities in Transylvania County that are age-appropriate and appealing to young children and their families. 

GetSet Transylvania’s partnership with Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC) is woven within each toolkit as Transylvania County was chosen as the first rural community to partner with SSIC. By bringing the beloved and trusted characters of Sesame Street home, families are receiving targeted help tackling a variety of applicable topics or often difficult issues. The resources and recognition that SSIC provide are priceless to the success and mission of GetSet Transylvania and such projects as the family engagement toolkits. 

Also bolstered by Pisgah Health Foundation funding is the initiation and launch of Family Connects in Transylvania County, a program designed to respectfully reach every family and newborn at arrival, regardless of socioeconomic status or income. The Family Connects model addresses social determinants of health by supporting the efforts within a state or community to align with its own community resources. Highly-trained nurses assess individualized family needs across various factors linked to child and family well-being. In addition, the nurses provide education about topics common to all families with newborns, provide brief intervention and support as needed, and utilize motivational interviewing techniques to triage families to appropriate and acceptable community resources (such as child care subsidies, mental health treatment, long term home visiting programs, or child care agencies), providing a backbone for the community’s system of care in early childhood.

The arrival of a new baby represents a time of transition and need for all families. This model combines universal and targeted features by engaging all families, rapidly assessing family-specific needs, and then concentrating resources to those with the greatest needs. By universally connecting families to services based on need, rather than risk, the model maximizes the efficiency of limited community resources. In a county with no birthing centers, this program is imperative to bringing well-rounded and high-quality care to the families of the community. SSTC and GetSet Transylvania’s responsibility and promise to the well-being and nurturing of a supportive environment for its youngest, most vulnerable citizens will come full-circle with the implementation of the Family Connects model in Transylvania County. 

SSTC and GetSet Transylvania remain steadfast in their commitment to seeking opportunities to advance the health and well-being of young children and their families within the community, even in light of recent times. This includes family engagement that meets families where they are, both physically and developmentally. By connecting families to community resources and providing early learning tools and equitable access to care, we will have the ability to influence well-being at the start of a child's life. In Transylvania County, our small size is our greatest asset. Through funds so graciously granted by Pisgah Health Foundation, programs such as the family engagement toolkits and Family Connects stand to make a concentrated and considerable difference in the lives of young children and families who deserve it most. 

In light of the current pandemic status of our communities and world, SSTC and GetSet Transylvania persist in their dedication to the overarching wellness of Transylvania County children and families. If your family or someone you know needs assistance or resources pertaining to the care of children and their education, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Smart Start at 828-877-3025 or visit www.smartstarttransylvania.org