Child First Program

PBS NewsHour Segment Featuring Child First

What is Child First?

Child First is a national, evidence-based, two-generation model that works with very vulnerable young children and their families, providing intensive, home-based services.
When young children grow up in environments where there is violence, neglect, mental illness, or substance abuse, the stress can be toxic to their developing brains. With effective intervention, this damage can be prevented.

Healing Stress and Building Strong Relationships

Child First is a national evidence-based, early childhood intervention that helps very vulnerable families build strong, nurturing relationships that protect and heal young children from the devastating impact of trauma and chronic stress. Most families served have experienced multiple challenges, including poverty, violence, depression, substance use, and homelessness.

Research demonstrates that these adverse experiences damage the developing brain of the young child. Therefore, Child First works in the home with a two-pronged approach: (1) Care coordination that provides wrap-around services and supports for the whole family, decreasing “toxic” stress, and (2) Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), an attachment-based, trauma-informed, dyadic intervention which protects the brain from the impact of stress and trauma. In this way, Child First is able to decrease the incidence of serious emotional disturbance, developmental and learning problems, and abuse and neglect among young children (prenatal to age six years). This intervention has been designated by Health and Human Services (HHS) as one of the 17 national, evidence-based home visiting models under the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Initiative (MIECHV).

Child First is currently in a period of rapid growth, now in 15 affiliate sites across Connecticut. The first national replication site is in Palm Beach County, funded by the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County. The Child First National Program Office (NPO) in Connecticut oversees and supports the local affiliate agencies, such as the Center for Child Counseling that are authorized to implement the Child First model.

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