It Takes a Village: A Story from our Community Home Visitation Program

It is often said that raising a baby takes a village. Unfortunately, sometimes there is no village to help.

That’s when the staff at EveryStep's maternal-child health programs step in to assist families and new mothers in building a healthy start for their children.

Stephanie Van Roekel is an RN who serves as a community home visitation nurse. She spends her days traveling between clients’ homes, providing them with community health education to aid their growing families.  As a mother of two young children, she knows all too well how immense of an undertaking parenting can be.

“There are so many things that people just don’t know— until someone tells you,” Van Roekel says.

Van Roekel often works with clients who face situations that make raising a child challenging. Many clients live in poverty, are uninsured or are new to our country.

“I think what keeps me going every day is, ‘who am I going to meet today?'” she said. “What situations am I going to see today? Is it going to be a challenge? Probably. But I know that I have resources and I have support to get through it and to help the families.”

When planning for a new baby seems overwhelming, Van Roekel helps expecting parents concentrate on all the little things that will help make the transition smooth for the parents and safe and healthy for the babies.  She often starts her visits with basic questions, like “where are you sleeping tonight?” or “who are you going to call if you’re in a sticky situation?”

“You can’t be healthy, and you can’t make these things a priority, if you’re basic needs aren’t being met,” she said. “We’re kind of wrapping around the family and making sure they’re having all of this care and support and advocacy.”

Her fellow team members serve as a support system, and they all help each other to address difficult cases.

“I think it’s just a passion of mine to be active in the community, to meet new people, to see new needs,” Van Roekel said. “I love it. I don’t know that I would ever do anything else.”

This story is an edited excerpt of a piece written by Drake University student Madeline Cheek.