Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker Program

The Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW) Program is a peer mentoring program that targets economically disadvantaged and geographically isolated communities. The program is designed to improve health and child development for pregnant women and families with children ages 0-3.

The MIHOW Program is a partnership between Vanderbilt University and community-based organizations. Through monthly home visits and parenting groups, MIHOW promotes healthy pregnancies, healthy children and healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents.

Our Vision: For all parents to have the skills, confidence and support they need to raise and nurture healthy, happy children.

Our Mission: To improve health and child development for families in underserved communities.

MIHOW logo


Volunteering with MIHOW provides opportunities to learn new things and develop skills as well as contributing from your own experience and talents. Whether you're helping out by directly serving families or indirectly providing support, volunteering can be a rewarding experience that helps families across the Southeast.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Go to thrift stores, garage sales, etc. and find the following books:  What to Expect the First YearWhat to Expect the Toddler Years, and Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn.
  • Make phone calls to a MIHOW site to find out their successes and challenges.  Write the experience into an article to be used in a future MIHOW publication.
  • Host a small house concert, baby shower, or holiday party to benefit MIHOW. 
  • Donate all the nice Christmas gifts you receive but will never use to MIHOW for door prizes at the annual conference.
  • Help facilitate pregnancy and/or parenting groups.
  • Provide input about different projects and fundraisers.
Success Story

Success Story

"I want a chance to raise a happy, healthy baby despite my own troubled childhood."

At 19, Mary had overcome much adversity. Mary grew up in poverty and suffered abuse of every kind. When Mary became pregnant she wanted the chance to raise a happy, healthy baby and show her child the love she had never received.

To become a successful mom, Mary needed support. With the help and visits of a MIHOW outreach worker, Mary learned to effectively nurture her child and foster physical, social, and mental development. A MIHOW outreach worker provided Mary with support at a critical time. She learned how to prepare nourishing meals for her child and for herself. The outreach worker encouraged her to continue her education and to access available resources. Today, Mary is a bright, well-educated, and nurturing mom.

Read More Stories

Community Impact

MIHOW Goes to High School

The MIHOW Team at Vanderbilt attended teen parenting groups at five high schools in Metro Nashville in September. We played games and talked to 32 pregnant and/or parenting teens (26 moms and 6 dads) about how their interactions with their children build strong brains and help their children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. The parents were engaged and enjoyed showing pictures of their babies and picking out books to add to their child's home library.

MIHOW Goes to Prison

Once a month, an outreach worker at New River MIHOW in West Virginia facilitates a men's group at a local federal prison. About 15 men attend the group each month - dads volunteering to come figure out how to build relationships with their children on the outside.

While being incarcerated makes parenting challenging, these parents are enthusiastic about reaching out to their children and forming relationships. Each group session focuses on an aspect of forming strong relationships - developing trust, establishing mutual respect, working with a child's mother in an effective way, etc. The outreach worker encourages the men to focus on how they can make a difference in their children's lives, helping them to recognize progress, process feelings, and identify their strengths.


The MIHOW program works with students from area universities such as Vanderbilt, MTSU, UT, Belmont, and Western Kentucky University.  There are opportunities with the MIHOW Program to volunteer or intern.

MIHOW Director Tonya Elkins has her Master's Degree in Social Work and is able to provide supervision for all student internships that require MSW supervision.  Internships are available for fall, spring and summer semesters.  At this time, all internships are unpaid.

Interns are expected to assist in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of MIHOW services. They will support the work of MIHOW sites throughout the southeast US and collaborate with health and social service providers, community advocates, funders, and the media to increase awareness of the MIHOW program.

Internship Responsibilities:

  • Serve as liaison to MIHOW sites in 4 states
  • Monitor progress of sites to assure adherence to MIHOW Standards of Practice
  • Provide technical support to sites for reporting and data collection issues
  • Write publications to promote awareness of the program to the community and to strengthen the network of MIHOW sites
  • Supervise the collection of data for the MIHOW Evaluation System
  • Prepare reports of program progress and outcomes
  • Help to write material to be placed on the MIHOW website
  • Develop training materials and curriculum to be used by the MIHOW sites

Schedule Requirements:       

Weekdays sometime between 8:30 and 5:00--Internship can be as little as 4 hours or as many as 40 per week depending on intern's level of interest and current needs of the agency.

Contact us for more information about student opportunities.

MIHOW is changing our society one family at a time, which will have a ripple effect that will change thousands.

Barbara Nicholson
Co-founder, Attachment Parenting International