The path to meeting the needs of a young child with medical and developmental concerns can be a disconcerting one for parents and caregivers. KIDS FIRST social workers are well-versed in recognizing and responding to the challenges experienced by families. As part of a child’s treatment team, social workers meet with parents at the point of entry, aid with their child’s transition into the program and provide continued support and advocacy throughout the child’s tenure in the program. Each of KIDS FIRST’s eleven sites provides services by a licensed social worker.
The role of KIDS FIRST social workers is to:
- Provide support to families as they address the challenges of daily living;
- Assist in identifying and accessing community resources;
- Advocate for families with special concerns;
- Act as a liaison with other community agencies on behalf of families;
- Provide parenting education and guidance;
- Advance the concept of Family Centered Care through working in partnership with families;
- Promote the understanding of children’s need for healthy social/emotional development through Project Nurture
Infant Mental Health – Project Nurture
All children benefit from a sustained primary relationship that is nurturing, supportive and protective. Project Nurture is designed to support children and families in developing a strong relationship to meet this need. At KIDS FIRST Project Nurture seeks to educate staff to (1) the importance of developing appropriate relationships with the children we serve and (2)sensitivity to barriers to parent-child relationships. The Ages and Stages/Social Emotional Questionnaire is incorporated into the intake process to provide guidance in working with infants/toddlers and their families as we seek to promote and support optimal social-emotional development.
An infant mental health specialist is available for counseling for parents and staff where needed.
The SCERTS model is a comprehensive, educational approach and multidisciplinary framework that addresses the core challenges faced by children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related disabilities. SCERTS prioritizes goals and implement practices that focus on enhancing social communication, emotional regulation and transactional supports. Because the model can be used in a group setting with children who exhibit a wide range of ages and developmental abilities, including both preverbal and verbal children it fits well in the KIDS FIRST clinic setting.
SCERTS model is: child-centered, family friendly, developmentally grounded, activity based and relationship focused. Many models have been developed for intervening with children with autism spectrum disorder and related disabilities. But, after much research the decision was made that SCERTS best fit with the child and family centered service concept of KIDS FIRST.
Behavioral Consultation and Intervention
KIDS FIRST Behavioral Services aim to equip children enrolled at KIDS FIRST with the emotional health and social skills to succeed at KIDS FIRST, throughout childhood, and into adult life. KIDS FIRST Behavioral Services seek to incorporate the clinic staff and the child’s family in the child’s behavioral treatment plan so that each child is surrounded by encouragement in all of their living environments. KIDS FIRST Behavioral Services are implemented in such a way that the child is encouraged to learn new skills and strategies, which the child can then begin using on their own.
Family or group counseling, as a part of KIDS FIRST Behavioral Services, exists for a few short sessions, after which the family is referred to a local counseling service if needed. This brief nature of counseling encourages families to focus intensely on the issues at hand, and encourages the family’s initiative in making positive change.