- A group of Bridgeport health, education, and social service providers began meeting to address the challenges of young children and families who were “falling through the cracks” and not receiving critically needed services. Under the leadership of Darcy Lowell, MD, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, a collaboration among early childhood service providers began, known as the “First Team.” “First” was an acronym standing for “Family Interagency, Resource, Support, and Training.” Bridgeport Hospital served as the home and fiduciary.
- The First Team received its first grant from the Connecticut Department of Social Services to hire a half-time, bilingual Master’s level social worker as the First Team Coordinator.
- The collaborative changed its name from the “First Team” to “Child First,” to emphasize the central importance of the child in the context of the family.
- A grant from the Connecticut Heath Foundation gave Child First an opportunity to create an “early childhood mental health system of care,” adding two full time staff –a Mental Health/Developmental Clinician and a Care Coordinator.
- Child First received a Starting Early Starting Smart – Prototype (SESS-P) grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to further enhance the model and to research its effectiveness by conducting a randomized controlled trial.
- Randomized controlled trial began.
- Child First received a grant from the Safe Start Initiative, from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (OJJDP) through the city of Bridgeport, allowing further model evaluation for children exposed to violence.
- Partial funding for Child First from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) began in Bridgeport.
- Medicaid billing was approved for children with mental health diagnoses.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Local Funding Partnership program awarded its first grant to Child First.
- Connecticut Hospital Association and Department of Public Health gave Child First at Bridgeport Hospital the 2007 Award for Community Service.
- American Hospital Association Behavioral Health Task Force Report cited Child First as a model behavioral health service strategy.
- Based on the excellent results of the randomized controlled trial, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) gave Child First a grant for the Replication Initiative to expand to four new communities in Connecticut. Matching funding was obtained from 12 Connecticut philanthropies, DCF, and the CT Department of Education to allow expansion to these communities: Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, and Waterbury. SAMHSA funding from the Child Mental Health Initiative supported New London County.
- Child First CT Coordination Office was established as part of the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI), which served as the fiduciary and implementation partner.
- Child First Leadership Team and the Child First State Executive Committee were established.
- Child First replication began using the Learning Collaborative methodology, with guidance from the Connecticut Center for Effective Practice of CHDI. Six communities participated (Cohort 1).
- Child First home-based services began in five new Connecticut communities in April, 2010.
- Results of the randomized controlled trial were published in Child Development, January/February 2011.
- Child First was designated one of twelve national “evidence-based” home visiting models by HRSA and the Administration for Children and Families.
- RWJF has continued to support replication in Connecticut, matched by funding from the Grossman family Foundation and other CT philanthropies.
- Four new communities (Cohort 2) were chosen for the 2011-12 replication process. Three are funded by philanthropy: Middletown, Stamford, and Windham County. SAMHSA funding from Project LAUNCH is supporting New Britain.
- Child First was included as part of a successful competitive expansion grant for Connecticut under the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV funding will allow Child First to expand to five new sites covering Ansonia/Derby, Danbury, East Hartford, Meriden, and Torrington/Winchester and expand existing sites to serve Bloomfield, Bristol, and Killingly/Plainfield/Putnam/Windham. Teams from these locations (Cohort 3) will begin a Learning Collaborative in early 2013. Once these teams begin to serve children and families, Child First will have a presence in all 15 of Connecticut’s DCF area offices.
- Child First was featured as a Connecticut developed evidenced based home visiting program at the National Conference of State Legislators’ Summit “Investing in Families through State Home Visiting Programs’ in Hartford, CT in June 2012.
- The Coalition for Evidence-based Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, rated Child First as “Near Top Tier.” This organization identifies the most promising interventions, using evidence to advocate for government support. Child First was judged to be “near top tier,” meeting almost all the elements of the Top Tier standard. Only three early childhood programs have met this standard. More information is available here.
what people are saying
“I consider Child First one of the most impressive interventions for young children that I have ever witnessed in my long lifetime.”— Edward Zigler, Ph.D.
Founder and Director Emeritus
Zigler Center for Child Development at Yale University
Founder of Head Start
what people are saying
Child First “has transformed scientific research into an extremely effective, evidence-based practice.”— Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston
Director, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University