The Families First Program has been providing in-home counseling to families in Crow Wing County for 14 years.
Families First services begin in response to a request for help from families experiencing difficulty with managing a child's behavior.
Referrals can come from a public or private agency, school, health-care facility or from families themselves. Families First counselors respond as quickly as possible to provide immediate assistance in preventing an out-of-home placement or to keep a crisis from accelerating.
The program focuses on the family as a whole with the goal of strengthening and preserving families. The program holds a belief that all families possess strengths and the potential for health and well-being.
Services begin with an assessment of family strengths and needs to focus involvement and engage the family members in setting goals for themselves. Family and counselor working together continue for an average of 10 to 12 sessions.
Issues that are typically addressed include: children's behavioral problems, parenting skills, school and community relationships, positive discipline techniques, communication, living conditions, chemical use/dependence, financial management, information on community resources and mental health needs.
The staff of both male and female counselors is prepared to respond to the needs of the families referred. They work and live in several counties in and around Crow Wing County. Schedules are flexible to include evenings and weekends so as to be available to families when they are able to hold family meetings.
Sessions are held in the family home and in the community and may consist of: discussion, role modeling, information, and "experiments" to try so that families might experience renewed hope in their ability to make changes. A library of books, videos and information is shared with family members as needed.
Several Families First counselors are also trained to facilitate Family Group Decision Making -- a process that expands on the family unit to include extended family and friends. These groups are tasked to develop a family plan that will provide protection and safety for their children.
The Families First Program is a service of Catholic Charities. It is supported by county contracts and purchase of service agreements; Medical Assistance or other prepaid government insurance plans; and major health insurance plans with prior authorization. Eligibility criteria includes a child with a mental health diagnosis with an assessment completed within the past six months.
Questions regarding referrals and eligibility should be directed to Elaine or Joan at 828-9324 or 1-800-562-5130.
(Spotlight on Children's Mental Health is sponsored by the Crow Wing County Local Advisory Council on Children's Mental Health.)
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