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Indiana Family Helpline Indiana Family Helpline

On May 2, 1988, the Indiana State Department of Health, Maternal and Child Health Services, launched a statewide comprehensive Indiana Family Helpline. The statewide Helpline was designed to assist in promoting Maternal and Child Health Services, WIC Services and support other programs and services throughout the state. In August 1992, the Children’s Special Health Care Services Helpline merged with the Indiana Family Helpline to improve services to all Indiana families of childbearing age. Durring fiscal year 2004, the Indiana Family Helpline responded to 28,115 calls; 1,210 advocacy calls resulting in 58,763 referrals.

Communication Specialists provide information, referrals, consumer education, advocacy and follow-up to individual callers on a variety of topics including obtaining early prenatal and child health care; accessing Medicaid and WIC providers; locating emergency housing, food pantries, utility assistance; and getting callers in contact with literacy, vocational and GED programs. The Family Helpline staff may become advocates for those callers who require this assistance. This advocacy sometimes takes the form of a conference call between the client, provider, and an Indiana Family Helpline Communication Specialist, especially for high-risk clients in areas of limited resources.

The primary focus of the Indiana Family Helpline is to address questions relating to Maternal and Child Health Services, Children with Special Health Care Services, WIC Services, and other concerns of callers throughout the state of Indiana. Caller’s needs are assessed by trained Communication Specialists, referred to the appropriate community resource(s) accessed thorough the county-specific computer resource database that presently contains over 9,500 resources. Follow-up calls are made or letters are sent to callers as needed, to ascertain if satisfactory services were received from the community resources to which they were referred. In addition the Helpline is available to assist professionals in obtaining consultation and information regarding these programs and issues in order to assist their clients. The staff forwards pamphlets, brochures and other written materials to enhance information shared by the Communication Specialist over the phone.

The majority of calls are generated by outreach efforts through Medicaid, distribution of Helpline flyers, special ISDH Health Campaigns, MCH, WIC Services, word of mouth, and campaign literature such as Baby First Right From the Start, Prenatal Substance Use Prevention, etc. Our Helpline resource database is shared when working with counties trying to improve their services and also with counties wishing to create local resource directories and helplines. The Indiana Family Helpline service enables Maternal and Child Health Services and Children’s Special Health Care Services staff to keep a “pulse” on the challenges facing families trying to obtain care with limited resources. Many potential crises have been averted in local counties by the Indiana Family Helpline staff providing families, agencies or providers with resources unknown to them.

Communication Specialists are on duty form 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Messages from callers may be left on our voicemail the remainder of the time. Each Communication Specialist is especially trained in Maternal and Child Health Services programs and issues, and have access to consultants from the Public Health Services commission in solving complex problems.