Empowering new parents

Empowering new parents

The Floating Hospital’s novel initiative for families living in New York City’s homeless shelters

When a family is on the precipice of welcoming a new life, joy is often tempered by anxious hopes, fears and challenges. Imagine layering the everyday anxieties of new parenthood with the weighty concern of not having a stable home. The Floating Hospital steps in precisely here, offering a haven for new families caught in the storm of homelessness—many of whom are grappling with domestic violence or other burdens making traditional housing elusive.

Under the guidance of Dr. Meghan Miller, director of health education, The Floating Hospital launched a new parent workshop series. The curriculum dives deep into core topics like pregnancy, delivery and birth, post-partum mental health and baby care.

“We do a lot of parenting classes at our Long Island City clinic, in schools and shelters. Our aim is to bolster the resilience of New York City’s most at-risk parents during formative times,” Miller remarked. The courses present a holistic approach to empowering parents to thrive against the odds.

The new series, with additional classes on SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), child development from ages 0-5, positive parenting and positive discipline, represents an effort by Miller’s health education department to support New York City’s most vulnerable new parents at a pivotal moment.

Two young children sitting at a table in the clinic

For many parents, the opportunity to share their experiences and bond with other parents sets The Floating Hospital’s resources apart. Parents and families living in shelters or doubled up with friends and family may not have many other opportunities to learn from the experiences of other new parents; The Floating Hospital’s health education setting provides this rite of passage.

But Miller’s initiative doesn’t stop with first-time parents or those expecting babies; parents of older children derive comfort and support from The Floating Hospital’s classes focused on navigating the developmental stages of children and teens.

“Parents, especially parents of tweens and teens, really struggle with discipline and conflict with their kids. She said these parents “come with a lot of questions and concerns and quickly start talking with each other.”

Dr. Meghan Miller, director of health education

Since The Floating Hospital’s founding, relief for parents has always been top of mind. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, The Floating Hospital’s trips at sea provided respite for mothers, who could finally take a moment to themselves, breathing in fresh salty air as their children received warm milk and the attention of nurses, doctors and educators on board.

Thanks to Miller and her team in the health education department, The Hospital continues this tradition today. The team’s latest iteration of parenting classes is sure to provide relief for some of New York City’s most vulnerable families, for whom a strong foundation in parenting tactics could make all the difference in their ability to navigate the difficult housing situations they face.

For Miller’s part, she is in the process of becoming a Certified Positive Discipline Educator for parents, ensuring The Floating Hospital will continue to meet this crucial family need for years to come.

This post is featured in our monthly newsletter from October 2023.

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The Floating Hospital provides high-quality healthcare to anyone who needs it regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, immigration or insurance status, or the ability to pay. By providing unrestricted medical care in tandem with health education and social support to vulnerable New York City families, The Floating Hospital aims to ensure those most in need have the ability to thrive, not just survive.


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