The First Born® Program (FBP) is a unique home visiting program designed to meet the needs of first-time families. All services are free, voluntary and offered to all women pregnant for the first time and first-time families within the program service area regardless of economic or health status. Services may begin at any time during pregnancy or at the birth of the baby and may continue until the child is 36 months.
The FBP approach to promoting health is a paradigm shift from the way that healthcare services are typically delivered in New Mexico and in the rest of the U.S. The FBP represents a reorientation of child and human services toward early investment and prevention away from attempting to “treat” poor outcomes later in the life cycle. Research suggests that shifting resources towards investment early in children’s lives produces better outcomes, save taxpayers’ money, and improves the quality of life.
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/or 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 with 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 receives weekly one-on-one supervision and on-going training opportunities and continuing education.
- Core Curricula
The First Born Program has comprehensive and flexible core curricula written specifically for FBP. 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.
- 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 meet the needs of families. Service intensity may increase or decrease to meet the changing needs of families.
- Transition planning
Transitions from hospital to home, from FBP into a more intensive intervention program or from FBP into a program designed for three-to-five year olds are carefully planned to ensure continuity of services for the child and family.
- Strong evaluation component
Independent, external program evaluation has been a priority and key component of the First Born® Program since its inception. The Program has been evaluated by New Mexico State University’s School of Social Work; the RAND Corporation is currently