Alberta Health Services – Families First
The Families First Program is an early intervention program (prenatal to age 3) that supports the health and well-being of children and families and reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect. This is achieved through the provision of high quality, child-focused and family-centred home visitation services. Specifically, Families First Program facilitates the development of “protective factors” to assist parents with identified risk factors to find resources and develop skills to parent efficiently. The program provides intensive, long term delivery of home visitation based support services to families affected with Addictions and Mental Health. The family’s self-efficacy is strengthened as advocates assist them in reflecting upon their strengths which increase their ability to exert control over their own motivation, behavior and social environment. Self-isolation exacerbates the individuals’/families’ ability to self-regulate or adapt to the stress and distress including the COVID-19 pandemic. Home Visitation Advocates (HVAs) assess and work to improve social determinants of health through direct service and community linkages. HVAs are well trained in assessment, community program awareness, resiliency models of care, social determinants of health support and trauma informed care practices. HVAs employ a wide variety of tools to assist clients in learning to negotiate crisis, role model assertiveness, form positive boundaries and provide ongoing emotional support and encouragement. This program’s unique alignment with Alberta Health Services provides connection for access to many services within the AHS continuum. This facilitates timely access to mental health or substance use disorder including counselling therapies, assessments, groups or other related services. Referrals are made through the Public Health Universal Newborn Screen, Community Referral Form, AHS Children’s Allied Health, Children’s Services, AHS Mental Health, AHS Social Work, AHS Better Beginnings, AHS Sexual Health, Physicians, Woods Homes, YWCA Harbor House, Arches, and self-referrals.