Essential Program Elements

First Born Program characteristics

The First Born® Program is a unique home visiting program designed to support families during pregnancy and in the early years of their child’s life. All services are free, voluntary, and offered to all eligible families within the program service area regardless of economic status or any other “risk” factors. All first-time parents are welcome! Services may begin at any time during pregnancy or at the birth of a baby and continue until a child is 3-years-old. For programs who want to offer preschool support, there is a supplemental preschool curriculum.

The First Born Model promotes positive health and mental health outcomes through prevention. This approach is a paradigm shift away from healthcare interventions that are reactive and available to families only after a risk is identified or an incident has occurred. The model represents a reorientation of child and human services toward early investment and prevention and away from attempting to “treat” poor outcomes later in life. Investing resources in early childhood produces better outcomes, saves money and improves overall quality of life in a community. One research studey estimated  a 5.7 to 1 return on investment for every dollar spent on home visiting.*

The success of the First Born Program is based on the following Best Practices program characteristics:

Relationship-based approach

At the core of any successful home visiting program are relationships because all human development occurs both through and within relationships. This approach supports and respects each family’s unique abilities as well as their ethnic, financial, cultural, and linguistic diversity. All goals are family-driven.

Screening and assessments

Because infancy and early childhood are times of rapid growth and development, the First Born Program completes assessments and screenings at regular intervals to ensure that children and their caregivers are integrated into each community’s continuum of care.

Inclusion of parents/other family members

Because infants and toddlers are profoundly influenced by their parents, other family members, and their community, services are integrated within their families and community.

Staff/family ratios

Caseload size allows home visitors to devote adequate time to plan and build strong relationships with children, families and community.

Staff knowledgeable about very young children

The First Born staff is knowledgeable about infant and toddler development and is experienced in working with children and their families. The First Born training protocols are comprehensive.

Staff supervision and training

First Born staff receive regular reflective and administrative supervision and ongoing training opportunities and continuing education.

Core Curricula

The First Born Program has comprehensive and flexible core curricula written specifically for the model. The scope of the curricula includes the prenatal period, the first year of life, and the toddler years. The curricula are copyrighted, updated frequently, and are based on current prenatal and early childhood research. The model has also created, based on parent requests, a preschool curriculum, racial identity development curriculum and 2Gen Early Literacy Curriculum. These will be widely available as stand-alone curricula in the fall of 2023.

Multidisciplinary Coordination

For families involved with more than one service provider, services are provided in a coordinated fashion.

Intensity of services

Services are offered initially on a weekly basis to ensure a positive and effective relationship between the home visitor and the family. Service intensity may increase or decrease to meet the changing needs of families. Families receive at least 40 visits in the first year after their baby is born.

Strong evaluation component

Independent, external program evaluation is an ongoing priority and key component of the First Born® Program. The Program has been evaluated by New Mexico State University (2009) and the RAND Corporation (2016). The University of New Mexico Cradle to Career Policy Institute initiated a multi-year research project in 2023.

Transition planning

Transitions from hospital to home, from home visiting into a more intensive intervention program or from home visiting into a center-based program designed for three-to-five year olds are carefully planned to ensure continuity of services for the child and family.

*Karoly, Lynn A., M. Rebecca Kilburn, and Jill S. Cannon. “Early Childhood Interventions: Proven Results, Future Promise.” PsycEXTRA Dataset. RAND Corporation, 2005.