Inside of a small, but cozy, apartment in the Parkville neighborhood of Baltimore, Amanda Berry, 28, a Baltimore native and London Long, her 10-month old daughter, are having their regularly scheduled home visit from DRUM Baltimore.
(From L-R)Linda Smith, London Long and Amanda Berry play on the floor during a DRUM visit. (Photo by Terrance Smith)
DRU/Mondawmin Healthy Families Inc., commonly known as DRUM, is a Baltimore based non-profit organization that offers support to families with pregnant women and young children.
During the home visit, London was active and attentive, especially when Linda Smith, the senior family support worker for DRUM Baltimore, arrived at the door. London crawled all the way from the back hallway to greet her.
Smith strives to make the home visit feel as if Smith was just another member of Berry’s family that came over to say hello. Smith asks Berry how everything is going and how London is doing.
Next comes singing of songs such as “Old McDonald Had A Farm,” accompanied by hand crafted signs of each farm animal. London, showing off her independence, takes more interest in the signs than the song.
Smith and Berry then read some of London’s favorite books, including one about Sesame Street’s Elmo. Afterwards, Berry shares a video of London taking her first steps just a few days before the home visit.
“Berry and London are just one of many families DRUM reaches out to and tries to help.”
DRUM is aimed at families are about to have a baby or recently had a baby. DRUM works with these families until their child reaches the age of 5 years of age.
DRUM services families in the Druid Heights, Reservoir Hill, Rosemont, Upton, Mondawmin and the East Side of Baltimore.
“DRUM expanded to East Baltimore after receiving increased funding from the state of Maryland. The 2015 uprising led to DRUM increasing on site services.”
The Baltimore City Health Department, social workers and past participants refer most of DRUM’s clients to them.
Since its start in 2000, DRUM has had 6 graduations with over 25 families involved. The graduation signifies that a family has been involved with the program until their child has successfully aged out.
Kathy E. Carroll, project director for DRUM, said, “We offer parent support groups, play groups so other parents and children can interact with other parents and children and anger management classes.”
Based upon the family’s evaluation by DRUM, it determines how involved they will be with the child and family.
Home visits are a key component of DRUM. It is where they get their analysis and make sure the children are reaching appropriate stages in their development. The number of home visits per month depends on the family but ranges from between two and four.
“On a typical visit, there is about a 15 minute period of talking to the family about their lives and then the focus shifts straight to how’s the baby?” Smith said. “When you go in you must see the baby.”
Dealing with several different families at once can be difficult and hard to manage, but Smith said, “It is something that you have to be dedicated to.”
Berry is happy with her experience with DRUM. “It has definitely helped me. A major help is having someone to talk to. It’s therapy.” Berry said.