CLEVELAND-- In light of 3-year-old Emilliano Terry's death, non-profits who work with at-risk mothers and fathers want more parents to know that resources are out there.
Merrick House in Tremont provides multiple levels of care for families on the West Side.
Everything from child care to GED classes and parenting seminars are held at the non-profit on Starkweather, which has been in operation since 1919.
One of the most important programs at Merrick House is a partnership with MomsFirst.
MomsFirst is a program through the Cleveland Department of Health providing free services to expectant mothers.
The services are free, and the only qualifications are that the participant live in Cleveland qualify for assistance (whether that be transportation, housing, health care, etc.).
Merrick House Executive Director Kathy Marsh has seen many success stories of MomsFirst.
"This program allows the workers to go out to the home and work one on one with these at-risk, pregnant women. Whether it's their first pregnancy, second or third, it doesn't matter," Marsh said.
MomsFirst operates at nine locations in Cleveland.
The case workers from Merrick House assist 175 mothers, but Marsh says, they actively have to recruit more people to participate. Sometimes that means going to area hospitals and working directly with Children and Family Services.
"We are constantly trying to find people and let them know," Marsh said.
She says, with mothers like Camilia Terry who are transitioning out of the foster care system, help like this can be vital.
"These [women] go right from the system, counting on some kind of assistance, and now they have to find housing. Once they get it, are they equipped to do everything on their own?" Marsh said.
She wishes Merrick House and MomsFirst had been able to reach Camilia Terry.
"It wasn't like anybody was not working with her. But obviously she needed that one step, that might have stopped [her son's death] from happening," Marsh said.
Here are more resources for at-risk parents in the Greater Cleveland area:
MomsFirst (area-wide referral line): (216)664-4194
Merrick House: (216) 771-5077
YWCA NIA (Nurturing Independence & Aspirations) and Independence Place: (216)881-6878
Helping Other People Everyday: (216)641-2044
Cleveland Christian Home Agape Independent Living: (216)651-0360