The goal of Child FIRST (Child and Family Interagency Resource, Support, and Training) is to find children who are at high risk due to their psycho-social environments or who have early manifestations of social-emotional problems so that interventions can be provided before development is compromised and there is significant damage to the developing brain.
Screening and Early Identification
Early identification may be an informal process within partner provider agencies or may be part of formal screening with specific measures that address early social-emotional development and psycho-social risk.
Child FIRST Home-Based Intervention:
The core of the Child FIRST is home-based intervention for a child (prenatally through age five years) and his/her family in those situations where a the child has emotional, behavioral, or developmental concerns or the family has multiple challenges in need of more in depth assistance.
Comprehensive Assessment of Child and Family Needs
This process begins with engagement and trust building. The Child FIRST team, comprised of a mental health/child development clinician and a care coordinator, serve as partners and advocates. The assessment occurs predominantly in the home, but also in early education settings, schools, and in any other environment in which the child spends significant time. The process includes observation, information from parents and others who interact with the family, and standardized and informal measures. It informs the formulation or understanding of the child’s emotional development as well as the Child and Family Plan of Care.
Parent-Child Mental Health Intervention
This psychotherapeutic intervention starts early in the assessment process, the model is largely based on Child-Parent Psychotherapy. The home environment provides an opportunity to respond to identified problems as they arise in their natural setting, is much more convenient, and is without the stigma of going to a mental health facility. The goal is to strengthen the parent-child attachment so that it serves both as a protective buffer to unavoidable stress and directly facilitates emotional, language, and cognitive growth.
Development of Child and Family Plan of Care
A family-driven plan of comprehensive, integrated intervention, supports, and services is developed in partnership with the family. This plan reflects the parents’ goals, priorities, strengths, culture, and needs. It not only includes treatment goals and services for the identified child, but also includes services and supports for the parents and siblings as well.
A care coordinator teams with the mental health clinician and facilitates the family’s access to multiple services and resources throughout the community. Care coordination addresses barriers to service access, renewed problem solving, and revision of the planning for services in consultation with the mental health clinician, with assistance from the Child FIRST staff and Clinical Director.
Eligibility for Services
If a child is under age six years, lives in Meriden and has social-emotional, behavioral, developmental, or learning needs, or comes from a family with high psycho-social risk, the child and all members of the family are eligible for Child FIRST services. There is no charge to the family for services. Families with no insurance or who are undocumented are served equally.