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Growing Together

Growing Together is a leading edge, community-based model of prevention and early intervention programs designed to enhance the social, emotional and cognitive development of young children who live in families that are struggling on many fronts. Each site adapts to the specific needs of its community, providing specialized services for single parents, recent immigrants and isolated families. It is a multidisciplinary approach in which a range of community volunteers and professionals—nurses, mental health professionals and child care providers—work together in unique ways to offer a variety of integrated services, including home visits, developmental assessments and various parenting programs.

Growing Together was the 1995 winner of the Peter F. Drucker Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Innovation. It was first implemented in St. Jamestown, Toronto, Ontario. In 1997, an interdisciplinary team comprised of government and community members approached Invest in Kids to replicate the model in Nova Scotia. Invest in Kids supports Growing Together in two locations in Nova Scotia that reach 400 families and 800 children each year: Dartmouth North and Northside/Victoria County in Cape Breton. The Departments of Community Services and Health of the Government of Nova Scotia and the IWK Health Centre are the other major partners.

For more information, contact Liane Comeau, Manager, Research & Programs at [email protected].

Growing Together - Dartmouth North (Dartmouth, NS)

Family home visitors greet each new baby with a celebratory visit and invite the family to participate in numerous social events, activities and programs offered through this Growing Together site. These activities take place throughout the day and on many evenings. “Baby Talk” is one particularly engaging program for new parents and their infants and covers such topics as infant attachment, communication and positive parenting. There are also regular social and community development activities for parents, such as leadership training where community residents are mentored into leadership positions at the Dartmouth Family Resource Centre. This ultimately allows them to play a significant role in planning and implementing Growing Together activities and programs.

(2003 Program Plan - Dartmouth North)

Growing Together - Northside/Victoria County (Cape Breton, NS)

Cape Breton is one of only a very few rural early intervention initiatives anywhere in Canada. As such, it has met some unique challenges. Many residents live long distances away from each other and from urban centers. This, however, hasn’t stopped the Growing Together team from offering over a dozen activities and programs throughout the county, as well as a number of special community events to bring residents together. These include “Read to Me,” a program for parents about the joys and benefits of reading to their young children, as well as a popular play group in the town of Baddeck where parents reportedly have as much fun as the children. While the adults share their experiences and ideas on parenting, their children learn how to play with each other and how to exercise their imaginations. In addition, a dedicated and enthusiastic team of home visitors work out of three locations across the county, reaching out to as many families as possible. Growing Together - Cape Breton receives substantial support from its official partners as well as informal partners such as nursing home residents who hand-knit mittens and puppets for the children.

(2003 Program Plan - Northside/Victoria County)

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