Kids Count is a unique partnership program between Kelowna Community Resources, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Interior Health Authority. Kids Count works collaboratively with Public Health Nurses who identify, assess, and refer overburdened families to the Kids Count Program prenatally or within three months of birth. Public Health Nurses often continue to play key roles in supporting the well-being of parents and children participating in the program. Kids Count employs three Family Outreach Workers and oneÂ Public Health Nurse Clinical Supervisor.
Contact the Public Health Nurse in your area:
Kids Count is a voluntary, family-centered, home visiting program. Service can begin in early pregnancy and may continue for up to 5 years. Trained Family Outreach Workers build trusting, caring relationships with family members while focusing on the unique strengths and needs of each family. Prenatally, information, education and support are provided that focus on healthy pregnancy outcomes for mothers and their babies. This includes preparation for transition to parenthood including possible changes to school or work and planning future pregnancies. Postnatally, the program expands to promote parent/child bonding and attachment, healthy infant/child growth and development, parenting self-efficacy and enhanced family functioning. Throughout the program, families are also coached to deal with a multitude of life challenges to support them to positively manage stress, create safe, nurturing environments for themselves and their children and plan for the future.
The Kids Count Program is for first time parents who are either pregnant or parenting an infant less than 3 months of age at program entry. At the time of the referral families must live in the Kelowna/West Kelowna area. Service will continue for families who subsequently move to Winfield or Peachland. Exceptions for families living in Winfield or Peachland at the start of service will be considered on a case by case basis in consultation with the Program Supervisor and Executive Director.
Referrals can be made by the participant or other community professionals. All referrals are initially directed to a Public Health Nurse (PHN) who uses a family assessment interview to determine if the program is the best fit for the family and then completes the referral. Service is on a first come first serve basis. If the program is full, the PHN will consult with the Kids Count Supervisor to determine if space will be available before the baby turns 3 months of age and requests the referral be considered at that time and/or refers the family to other parenting programs in the community.
Duration of Services & Service Capacity
The program runs Mon to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Family Outreach Workers make every effort to be flexible and arrange home visits to accommodate family schedules during these times. Most visits are about one to one and a half hours long but depend on family needs. The Program uses a level system to regulate hours and frequency of service delivery.
- Level One: One to one and a half hour home visit weekly*
- Level Two: One to one and a half hour home visit every two weeks*
- Level Three: One to one and a half hour home visit once per month*
- Level Four: Usually one visit of one to one and a half hours every three months or at the request of the parent*
- Special Services: One to one and a half hour home visit twice a week
- Crisis Response: Families experiencing crisis may be referred to specialized services for crisis intervention
*Families may wish telephone/text contact with their home visitor in between regularly scheduled visits
The program is long term and invites families to stay involved until their child reaches 5 years of age.
Kids Count is based on the Healthy Families America Model. We adhere with some assistance from Public Health Nursing, to The 12 Critical Elements of the model which are:
- Initiate services prenatally or at birth.
- Use a standardized assessment tool to systematically identify families who are most in need of intensive home visitation services. The tool assesses the presence of various factors associated with increased risk for poor childhood outcomes.
- Offer services voluntarily and use positive persistent outreach efforts to build family trust.
- Offer services intensively (at least once a week). Have well defined criteria for decreasing services over time. Offer services long term, i.e., 3-5 years.
- Services are culturally sensitive. Staff and materials used will reflect the diversity of the population served.
- Services focus on supporting parents, promoting healthy parent child interaction and assuring healthy child development.
- At a minimum, families are linked to a physician to assure optimal health and development of the baby.
- Services are provided by staff with limited caseloads to assure that an adequate amount of time is spent with each family.
- Service providers are selected because of their personal characteristics, skills and willingness to work with culturally diverse communities.
- All service providers receive basic training in areas such as domestic violence, substance abuse, cultural diversity, family systems, child development, etc.
- Service providers receive intensive training specific to their role
- Service providers receive ongoing effective supervision.
We believe that early nurturing relationships are the foundation for life-long healthy development.
Infant Mental Health: Kids Count embraces the Infant Mental Health approach, knowing that babies and young children thrive when they are properly care for and nurtured by adults. Responsive relationships with consistent primary caregivers help build positive attachments (see Attachment Theory below) that in turn support healthy social-emotional development. These relationships form the foundation of mental health for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. In order for children to grow into loving, nurturing adults, it is essential for them to:
- Experience, regulate and express emotions
- Form close and secure interpersonal relationships
- Explore the environment and learn
“A society that values its children mush cherish its parents” — John Bowlby
Strength-based: Kids Count is grounded in a belief that that each family has strengths, capabilities, and resources that support the development of their wholeness and health. Drawing on appreciative inquiry, a strengths based approach does not ignore problems. Instead there is a shift in the frame of reference to define the issues. By focusing on what is working well, informed successful strategies support adaptive growth in families. Â It operates on the following key values:
- Parents are active participants in the helping process
- All parents have strengths often untapped or unrecognized
- Strengths foster motivation
- Strengths are internal and environmental
Actively engage all family members who will have a role in the child’s development
Family-Centered: Kids Count focuses on the needs and welfare of children within the context of families and communities. Family is broadly defined to include birth, blended, kinship, foster and adoptive families. We uphold the core values:
- The best place for children to grow up is in families.
- Providing service that engages, involves, strengthens and supports a child”s family is the most effective approach to ensure the child’s safety, permanency and well-being.
“Parents are the most important people in a baby’s life and are the most important teacher a child will ever have.”
Developmental Parenting: This is what parents do to support their children’s learning and development; it’s the kind of parenting that value’s a child’s development, supports a child’s development and changes along with a child’s development. Parenting includes what the parent does with the child and also what the parent knows about the child, the parent’s goals for the child , the values he or she want to teach the child, and the home environment that the parent shares with the child. We are committed to:
- Parents’ rights to receive education and support to assist them in nurturing their children and learning parenting skills.
- Building parent’s confidence, knowledge and motivation
- Emphasizing activities that help parents promote their children’s security, exploration and communication because these are the foundations of social-emotional learning, cognitive, and language development. Children who are secure, motivated to learn, and able to communicate will develop every day as they play, explore, and interact with the world.
- Helping parents keep parenting positively during a crisis.
“Everyone has the potential to change and grow”
Lifelong Learning: We believe it is our responsibility to facilitate a context for change and to support people to reach their goals.
“It takes a village to raise a child”
Collaborative Practice: The Kids Count Program is not a stand-alone program. It complements a range of early-intervention services and supports available to families with young children. We believe in networking and working in partnership with government, and community agencies, educational and health related programs, cultural and religious organizations, elected officials and others to meet the needs of children and families. We are often able to act as a bridge between families, other systems and service providers. Because of our relationships with families, we are often able to translate families realities to other practitioners, offer insights as to what will work for individual families and help prevent overlap in services.
“It is not possible to work on behalf of human beings without having powerful feelings aroused in yourself.”
Parallel Process: A key component to delivering Kids Count services in a family’s home is the Family Outreach Worker’s ability to develop a nurturing relationship with the family. This relationship creates a safe environment where a family can learn and grow. In essence, this safety in relationship can be therapeutic in and of itself. When staff treat parents with respect and demonstrate they value the relationship with the, the parents will in turn be more likely to show respect for and value their children.
“Learning is incidental because we learn when learning is not our primary intention, vicarious because we learn from what someone else does, and collaborative because we learn through others helping us to achieve our own ends.” — Frank Smith
Reflective Practice: Kids Count believes in the necessity of reflective practice as a continuous process that involves attention to all relationships, including the relationship between the infant and the parent, the parent and the Family Outreach Worker, and the Family Outreach Worker and the supervisor. Reflective practice involves thoughtfully considering one’s own experiences in applying knowledge to practice. At the same time, it involves being supported in supervision by attending to the emotional content of the work and how reactions to this content may impact outcomes. The act of reflection is seen as a way of promoting the development of autonomous, qualified and self-directed professionals. Engaging in reflective practice is associated with the improvement of quality of care, stimulating personal and professional growth and closing the gap between theory and practice (Jasper, 2003).
The Kids Count Program considers the interplay of the theories of Self-Efficacy (Bandura), Human Ecology (Brofenbrenner), Human Attachment (Bowlby) and Theorectical Behaviour Change (Prochaska) when assisting families to set realistic goals, practice healthy lifestyle behaviours, parent effectively and manage challenging life circumstances.
Psychologist Albert Bandura defined self-efficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations. Self-efficacy is important to human functioning as it influences people’s emotions, thoughts, motivation and behavior. Parental self-efficacy (the belief that one will be able to perform parenting tasks successfully) has been shown to be a critical factor in parenting quality. As well, efficacious parenting beliefs are often associated with greater competence in performing parenting tasks. Specifically, research suggests that high levels of parental self-efficacy are associated with:
- increased quality of parent-child interactions
- increased parental warmth and responsiveness
- parental involvement with and monitoring of adolescents.
These parental characteristics may in turn act as protective factors that reduce the likelihood of child and adolescent anxiety, depression and behaviour problems, while promoting higher self-esteem, school performance and social functioning.
Human Ecology Theory Urie Bronfenbrenner-developmental psychologist)
A child’s development occurs within the context of the system of relationships that form his or her environment. Bronfenbrenner’s theory defines complex layers of environment, each having an effect on a child’s development. This theory has recently been renamed bio-ecologicalsystems theory to emphasize that a child’s own biology is a primary environment fueling her development. The interaction between factors in the child’s maturing biology, his immediate family, friendship circles, neighbourhood, community environment, and the societal landscape fuels and steers his development. Kids Count works with families to create environments in which parents and children can thrive and flourish.
Attachment theory (John Bowlby)
This theory proposes that children who receive sensitive and responsive parenting are more likely to develop a secure attachment style, and characteristically continue to develop well both cognitively and emotionally. Infants with less desirable attachment styles appear to be more at risk for developmental trajectories that will end in poor social skills and relationships. It is recognized that adults have their own childhood attachment experiences which can impact their capacity to develop sensitive and responsive relationships with their children. The Kids Count Program acknowledges these factors. We model caring supportive relationships with parents, promote, teach and support nurturing parenting practices and encourage parents with possible attachment injuries to seek additional specific resources for assistance.
Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change Theory
The Transtheoretical Model of Change (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983; Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992; Prochaska & Velicer, 1997) is a theoretical model of behavior change which has been the basis for developing effective interventions to promote health behavior change. It is a model of intentional change that focuses on the decision making of the individual and involves emotions, cognitions, and behavior. Change implies phenomena occurring over time. The Transtheoretical Model construes change as a process involving progress through a series of five stages (Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance). Kids Count staff make no assumptions about how ready individuals are to change rather they recognize that individuals will be in different stages of change and appropriate interventions and supports must be developed for each person.
1. Improve Maternal and Newborn Health
1.1 To support access for pregnant women to primary health care providers
1.2 To support positive health behaviours in pregnant women including healthy eating and weight gain; adequate rest and exercise; good oral hygiene; reduced use of substances i.e. cigarettes, alcohol, illegal and prescription drugs; STI prevention and treatment
1.3 To support enhancement of maternal mental health during pregnancy
1.4 To support and facilitate preparation for transition to parenthood including considerations for education and employment, and planning of subsequent pregnancies
1.5 To facilitate access for pregnant women to community resources
2.Improve the Health and Development of Children
2.1 To facilitate and support parents to develop nurturing parent-child relationships
2.2 To facilitate the development of parenting self-efficacy e.g. increased parenting confidence, positive parenting skills
2.3 To support families to create safe, stimulating home environments where parents understand and respond to the developmental needs of their children
2.4 To monitor children’s development including the early identification and referral of children with developmental delays and/ or social/emotional concerns.
3. Improve Family Functioning and Self-Sufficiency
3.1 To build and model trusting, nurturing relationships with families and their children
3.2 To assist families to identify and build on their strengths
3.3 To assist families to develop effective communication and conflict resolution skills
3.4 To assist families to develop and execute plans to support their economic well-being
4. Improve Family Community Connectedness
4.1 To collaborate with other service providers in meeting the needs of families e.g. identify gaps in service and problem solve to address these issues
4.2 To support families/individuals to access community resources appropriate to expressed/identified needs
4.3 To facilitate the development of relationships with other families of young children and with other informal supports in neighbourhoods and in the community
4.4 To advocate for marginalized families/individuals within the community