Growing Together is is a unique program that utilizes proven methods of early intervention and prevention designed to ensure the healthy development of young children in high-risk neighborhoods. The program supports families through home visiting. Information and help through parent training, and guidance and resources for families who need assistance.

Invest in Kids Foundation supports the program in three provinces. In St. Jamestown, Toronto, we partner with the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre and the Toronto Public Health department, in the Montreal district of Plamondon, C�te-des-Neiges we work with Sainte-Justine Hospital and Centre Local de Services Communautaires (CLSC), and a third program has just been launched in Dartmouth and Cape Breton, in partnership with the I.W.K. Grace Hospital and the Nova Scotia Government.

STRATEGIES: Growing Together is a population-based initiative, designed to: 1) promote healthy development and prevent future health problems in both parents and children; and 2) intervene early in situations where the development of an infant or child is at risk.

The promotion and prevention part of the model includes a locally appropriate combination of programs tailored to the community, such as parenting classes, employment training classes, an infant development tracking system and clinic, advocacy supports, nutrition programs (such as cooking, gardening and breakfast programs), drop-in centres and playgroups, child care, etc.

The early intervention programs generally focus on families who are at risk due to the following situations: 1) isolation and/or disenfranchisement; 2) difficulties due to a parent or child developmental delay, serious medical condition or a psychiatric problem; and 3) past experience by any member of the family with severe abuse, trauma and/or loss. Appropriate interventions are selected for each family, and includes options such as individual or group therapy, play therapy, speech and language therapy and crisis intervention.

APPROACH: Growing Together delivers a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary combination of best practices in child, family and community supports to high risk families with young children. It requires the close collaboration of professionals from public health, child care, children's mental health, family support and education, and the strong involvement of parents and community members. The result is a seamless set of services, tailored to the locale, where parents and professionals unite to provide high quality, non-stigmatizing supports and services that are engaging, valuable and effective. The early identification and intervention programs, although provided by highly trained staff and volunteers, are experienced by children and their families as natural, non-threatening extensions of existing relationships established in formal programs and informal supports.

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