Thursday, July 12, 2007
This presentation is part of : Family Health Issues
The Effects of an Early Intervention Program on Three High-Risk Communities
Jean Hughes, PhD1, Elizabeth Raining Bird, PhD2, and Denise Sommerfeld1. (1) School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada, (2) School of Human Communication Disorders, Dalhousie University, Hailifax, NS, Canada
Learning Objective #1: Understand the long-term effects of an early intervention program on parent-child interaction, child development and maternal well-being.
Learning Objective #2: Compare patterns of health service use and program use.

There is little debate that conventional health care systems generally do a poor job of reaching out and engaging high-risk families in services. This presentation discusses GROWING TOGETHER, an early intervention, population-based model. It comprises a comprehensive array of programs and services that target high-risk families with young children (0-6 years) living in three high-needs communities (population ≈ 22000/community) in Eastern Canada. Two sites are within urban cities (Toronto – 2.5M; Halifax Regional Municipality – 350,000) and the third site is located a rural community (Cape Breton 109,000). One site is highly multicultural, while two sites are largely Eurocentric. GROWING TOGETHER is grounded in an ecological model of family and community development. It is designed to: 1) promote healthy infant and child development, 2) prevent future problems in both parents and children, and 3) intervene early in situations where the development of an infant or child is at risk.

 The discussion will examine the longitudinal effects of GROWING TOGETHER (from birth to 18 months) on the parent (parenting and childrearing attitude, parenting confidence, childhood literacy experiences, community functional capacity, depression), the infant/child (healthy development - physical, psychological, emotional, social, cognitive, speech/language and literacy), parent-child interaction and the family environment (home, chronic family problems). It will determine which factors (parent, child, environment) are most critical to parent-child interaction. It will also compare patterns of health service use (tracked throughout the community via linkable administrative databases within the publicly funded health care system) at Baseline and at 18-months. The health service patterns will be compared (a) among GROWING TOGETHER families and (b) between GROWING TOGETHER families and all other families within the GROWING TOGETHER catchment areas of two sites. Finally, the relationship between health service use and use of GROWING TOGETHER programs and services will be discussed.