Villages Highlight: Erin Ortman
Erin M. Ortman, Assistant Program Director, The Villages Healthy Families
Healthy Families America promotes positive parenting, enhanced child health and development, and prevention of child abuse and neglect. The program is available to parents in the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, Israel and 38 states, including Indiana.
The Villages’ Erin Ortman manages sites in Brown, Lawrence, Monroe and Decatur Counties. She’s worked for The Villages over 20 years and says, “I’ve always appreciated working for The Villages. I love the program. I love the model. I love that it’s relationship and strength based.”
Erin started working for The Villages in 1999 when she applied to a job posting in the newspaper. A Seymour resident, she was hired as a home visitor for the Healthy Families Jackson county program. She says within a year she became an assessment worker and then supervisor. In 2012 she became the assistant program director.
One of the things she loves most about Healthy Families is that it’s for everyone. “Every parent deserves and needs to be supported. I’ve raised two boys while working here, and even I’ve benefited from being around experienced and knowledgeable staff,” says Erin. “I like that I am one of those now.”
Over the years, Healthy Families program trainings have not only benefited her professionally but personally. She recalls when her boys were young, she learned about styles of parenting, discipline and the importance of chores. “The speaker said it’s important for children to have chores. It allows them to feel part of the family, so they have a role to play to contribute and connection with the family process,” says Erin. “I used that with both of my boys over the years explaining, you are part of the household, everyone plays a part and has something to do.”
Erin says she likes the program’s focus on assets people bring into parenting and how the program connects families to resources in their communities. “When we interview families, we focus on their strengths. What do they have that they bring to the table? Then we can focus on other protective factors, so they can raise their children to be the best they can be,” says Erin.
Her role in the program expands beyond leading staff at The Villages. Erin is the Healthy Families Indiana state policy committee co-chair and a member of the database committee. She is a Healthy Families America peer, which gives her a chance to visit other sites across the country and review their services. “These are opportunities all thanks to The Villages,” says Erin.