What is the First Steps program?
Through a strong commitment to collaboration and innovation, Althea Projects have co-designed (with the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs) the first mother and new born baby assessment and support service in the North Queensland region. It is anticipated that First Steps will have a significant positive impact on the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children accessing the program.
This model does aid in the prevention of newborn infants being removed from their mother at The Townsville Hospital (TTH). The model has a strong focus on meaningful engagement with expectant mothers and their families to increase resilience and opportunities for the mothers to be able to develop safe parenting skills so that they can take their children home.
Benefits to Mother and Family
It is anticipated once a mother has satisfactorily completed the program, she will:
- Have improved parenting behaviours and emotional responses such as empathy and warmth;
- Be supported to provide a stimulating and safe environment for her child;
- Have access to people who can support her; and
- Know how to access community resources and services to meet her family’s needs.
Benefits for New Baby
It is anticipated the Child will:
- Get the best possible start in life through the critical bonding phase after birth;
- Be safe enough not to require statutory intervention;
- Have a nurturing relationship and attachment to their parent/s;
- Afforded an encouraging start to life maximizing on their potential to reach their full development; and
- Maintain their connection to family, their community and their culture.
Benefits for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Families
The program will also assist Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children and families in the following ways:
- Improving outcomes for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander families at risk of entering the statutory system;
- Reducing the intergenerational effects of removals on parenting thus minimizing multiple generations of families becoming involved in the child protection system;
- Preventing children and families being forced to relocate from their communities, cultural ties and extended family due to child protection involvement;
- Supporting and maintaining family, community and cultural strengths that serve to protect children; and
- Assist families with child rearing approaches that are holistic, empowering and culturally inclusive.