For more than 80 years, Family Service of the Piedmont (FSP) has been empowering individuals and families to resource hope, achieve stability and thrive through quality support services, advocacy, and education.
“It’s better to build a healthy child than repair a broken adult,” said Andrea Huckabee, FSP family support division director. “The work we are doing with Child First is a comprehensive and holistic approach to helping families in our community.”
Since June 2022, FSP has offered Child First in Guilford County. It is an evidence-based program based on scientific research that tells us early trauma and adversity lead to biological changes in young children that damage their brains and metabolic systems – which leads to long-term problems in mental health, learning, and physical health.
“The community has been very supportive of offering preventive services like Child First,” said Huckabee. “When we can offer help to families with young children – birth through age five – we can help the caregivers become healthier parents and break cycles of abuse and neglect or offer actionable steps children need to thrive.”
“Early brain development is a crucial time for good mental health in the family,” said Abrianna Trower, Child First clinical supervisor. “Working with multiple generations, we frequently find young parents with children who are living with their parents. We can work with up to three caregivers, so it may be a parent, a grandparent, an aunt, or an uncle; we can redefine what the definition of a family is and focus on support for the child or children.”
Huckabee and Trower mention that making a connection with the caregivers is critical to the success of Child First. “Since we are in their homes, we can see dynamics in action and practice hands-on solutions,” Trower said. “We can also push into child care centers or the school system to help children with services they need to succeed. So we are preparing them to better function in the school and community.”
Families they work with may also work with other providers like speech therapists, occupational therapists, or nurses. The Child First team can consult with them all to provide wraparound care.
Trower said parents benefit from these services as well, learning how to advocate for their children early in their school careers. “We had a child in our program whose behaviors may have prevented them from attending school. But now they are in school, they are flourishing, and we’re getting ready to discharge them from the program. A graduation of a sort. Successes like this inspire us to keep going.”