Come July 1, Jones County Public Health is launching a new program to encourage healthy habits when it comes to the county’s youngest residents.
The county will kickoff the new Jones County Points Program, which will allow parents or guardians to earn points for completing tasks that show positive parenting and healthy behaviors.
Planning for the program began around December, Jenna Lovaas, Jones County public health director said, as a result of conversations that had taken place between the various community partners, including Early Childhood Iowa, Jones County Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, Lutheran Services in Iowa and area school districts.
The program is open for anyone with a child from prenatal to 18 years of age, regardless of need or income, though Lovaas said the range where the store will have the most impact is for kids from the age 0 to 5.
There were a few reasons they decided to keep the eligibility open. The department is not capable of confirming everybody’s income, and Lovaas said she expected people would likely self-select anyway. Even if every eligible person in the county did register for the event, the county is small enough that it is believed the program is sustainable.
Aside from the logistics of the finances, Community Health Specialist Jess Wiedenhoff said encouraging healthy behaviors shouldn’t have an income requirement.
“We’re trying to promote that healthy behavior county-wide,” she said.
How many points something is worth is based on how much the item itself costs. While they don’t exactly have everything figured as far as their point scale goes, items will range from five points for things like a toothbrush to 600 points for a crib.
Points for a given event can range from 200 points for a postpartum visit, 100 points a visit for things like immunizations and prenatal visits, to 25 points for attending community events and the local library. Some actions, like flu shots and dentist visits, can even earn points on a per person basis.
“The more people we can get to enroll the earlier the better,” Lovaas said.
To track points, participants will receive a program booklet to track points and services, with a signature spot for the provider as proof of service. If they forget to get a signature, program members can bring in a summary report or other documentation to get credit.
Even if you’re not interested in participating in the program yourself, you can donate new or gently used items to be used in the store, including: diapers (size newborn through five), pull-ups, baby wipes, bottles and bottle brushes, baby wash, shampoo, lotion, rattles and small infant toys, developmental toys, pacifiers, infant sleepers/sleep sacks, wash cloths and towels (infant, child, adult), infant socks or booties, infant fingernail clippers and nail files, first utensils, plates, and bowls, straw or sippy cups with handles, bedding (crib and twin sheets/blankets) and personal hygiene items.
Contact Jones County Public Health to see if items are eligible for donation.
As the program gets underway, the department will be able to track inventory to see what items are the biggest need and interact with participants to get feedback on the program, whether that’s when they’re redeeming points or just checking back in as required annually.
After the program launches July 1 and enough points are earned, the points can be redeemed in the program’s store, which will be able to be accessed from the lower level of the Broadway Place Annex at 105 Broadway Place in Anamosa and following the signs for the Jones County Volunteer Center.