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HANDS – Health-Access-Nurturing- Development-Services

The Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) program is a free voluntary home visitation program for new and expectant parents.

Families begin by meeting with a HANDS Parent Visitor who will discuss any questions or concerns about pregnancy or a baby’s first years. Based on the discussion, all families will receive information and learn about resources available in the community for new parents. Some families will receive further support through home visitation.

How has HANDS helped others?

Hands currently provides:

Services to 10,000 to 11,000 families annually
Over 650 home visitation services on a daily basis
Over 14,000 home visitation services on a monthly basis
Families who participated in HANDS (compared to families who did not participate) experienced:
Fewer premature infants

Fewer low birth weight babies (<5lbs, 9oz)

Fewer very low birth weight babies (3lbs, 5oz)

Fewer developmental delays
Fewer complications during pregnancy and/or delivery
Adequate prenatal care
Who Can Participate?

Any parent expecting a new baby and residing in Kentucky is eligible. Families must be enrolled during pregnancy or before a child is 90 days old. 

HANDS will support a family during their pregnancy and until the baby turns two to three years old to assist with child development, parenting skills, health services and other needed resources.

Why Participate in Hands?
  • Parents are the most important people in a baby’s life.
  • Parents are the first and most important teachers a child will ever have.
  • Parenting is a very demanding job and all parents have worries, questions and stress.
What Can Parents Expect?
  • Support through your pregnancy and the early years of your baby’s life
    • Learn tips for staying healthy in pregnancy. Those first few months can be especially rough.
    • You’ll have a weekly support system to walk you through the best way to stay healthy in pregnancy and also the labor process.
    • We’re here to help decrease any anxiety you might have around the unknown
    • Learn how to bond with baby so they know mom/dad’s voice even before they’re born.
  • Ways to make your home safer for your baby.
  • Information on how to care for your baby.
    • Build security/trust with baby.
    • You will learn how to pick up on cues, so you are there for your baby when they’re happy, sad, sick or overwhelmed.
    • There’s a better way than letting them cry it out.
    • Practice empathic parenting.
    • Our goal is to grow better adjusted children who can self-regulate from an early age.
    • Tantrums in the grocery don’t have to become your norm.
  • Facts that will let you know your baby is growing and developing in healthy ways.
  • Activities that you and your baby can enjoy together that can stimulate your child’s brain development.
  • Access to other community services
How Does the Program Work?

A family is screened after a referral is made. This referral can be made by the doctor’s office, the health department, your church, friends or family.
A trained home visitor will visit your home to introduce parenting skill development in areas such as recognizing your baby’s needs,
what to expect as your baby grows, making your home safe, etc. The frequency of visits will be determined by the family’s needs.

Not sure this program is for you?

We want you to bond with your baby right now and we help you do that through education, encouragement, and support. You may already have a support system, or maybe you don’t,
But we are a safe person you can talk to that’s outside of your normal circle. What we’re telling you is all based on years of research.
You are learning right alongside other Kentucky moms and dads. We are here to see you succeed and cheer you on in your role as parent.

Comments from some of MCHD HANDS participants:

“I love Liz 🙂 she is wonderful the whole staff is wonderful along with the program is wonderful as well.”

“Very welcoming, helpful people for example if I needed to know something such as what safety items I need buy so that I can baby proof my home or if today isn’t going well I can always call them and just talk step outside and breathe for a min and it helps so much. The HANDS program is amazing and the staff from our Mercer County Health Department are always so supportive and helpful when it comes to anything.”

“I love love love Liz!! She’s so sweet and caring and I just love how she doesn’t just jump into the teaching. She cares about how I’m doing and what’s going on in my life.”

 Important Telephone Numbers:

Abuse Hotline:




Daycare Issues:


KY Commission on Women:


Licensing and Regulations:


HANDS (State Level):


Mercer County HANDS:


K-CHIP (Health Insurance for children):


Medicaid Ombudsman:


State Ombudsman:


Poison Control:


WIC (Women, Infants and Children):


The Mercer County Health Department is accepting applications for a full time Public Health Nurse I
General Duties include:
This position serves under the direction of the Director. Responsibilities for this position include, but are not limited to: Provides entry-level nursing functions and services to individuals and families under close supervision in a clinic or community setting, focusing on the prevention of illness, injury or disability, the promotion of health and maintenance of the health of populations. The nurse in this classification would receive job specific training in the requirements and scope of practice of the various assigned health department programs and services.Health department services are provided to all age populations. A brief description of health department services include adult and child immunizations, well child examinations, family planning exams, WIC services/promotion, dental varnish for children, pandemic response, public health preparedness, basic patient care, harm reduction services and promotion of the health department within the community.
Minimum Education, Training or Experience:
See special requirements.
Special Requirements:
(Age, Licensure, Regulation, Etc.) Must have RN license in Kentucky or compact state or provisional license in Kentucky, meeting all requirements of KRS 314.041.
Starting Salary:
$20.30-$25.24/hr negotiable with additional experience. Grade 17
Apply at https://KOG.CHFS.KY.GOV/HOME. Create a citizen account and search LHDCOS (search and apply) Completed application must be submitted by November 11, 2022. Transcripts must be provided before the close date if post-secondary education is required or may be substituted for experience. Transcripts must list the degree awarded.  Qualified applicants/employees are subject to a pre-screening, selection for interview, and/or demonstration of skills testing.  Employment may be contingent upon a successful drug screening and background check.  Equal Opportunity Employer.