Family Spirit home-visiting program reaches over 75 tribal communities in 15 states

The evidence-based and culturally infused support program for new mothers and families also expands to urban Chicago and St. Louis

Early Childhood Development

Training blitz! The latest from Family Spirit's busy training team, from the Navajo Nation in Arizona to St. Louis and Chicago

Family Spirit addresses intergenerational behavioral health problems, optimizes local cultural assets, and overcomes deficits in the professional health care workforce in low resource communities. It is the only evidence-based home-visiting program ever designed for, by, and with American Indian families, and it has shown dramatic results in low income and marginalized communities.

The program was developed in partnership with the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Navajo Nation, and the training team has gone back to its roots this year with new trainings to expand the program's coverage in Tuba City and Window Rock, Arizona. Newly certified home visitors from these groups will help move forward the work within Indian Health Service. Two additional trainings are scheduled at Indian Health Service sites in South Dakota and Portland, Oregon.

In February, Family Spirit trained a group at St. Louis's Queen of Peace Center, a women’s recovery center with inpatient and outpatient services (pictured above). Family Spirit will be taught to groups of pregnant women and moms with young children. Limited home-visiting services will be offered as well. Last year, we trained another partner in Chicago that will serve a Latino and African American community, and are very excited to see how the program impacts families in these communities. 

Family Spirit goes digital

As Family Spirit continues to expand, so does the need to offer program components digitally. With funding from the Suzanne Roberts Native American Dream Fund, the team launched a password-protected area on the program’s website for affiliates, or communities who have adopted the program. The affiliate portal enhances access to program materials and knowledge sharing and aids in effective implementation of program services with the aim of better outcomes for families and communities.

The team aspires to digitize the Family Spirit curriculum and use technology to make the program more nimble, tailored, impactful and cost-effective. Currently, Family Spirit uses a printed tool kit, including 63 lessons and accompanying lesson plans (such as those in use above), a reference manual, participant workbook, supervisor implementation guide, assessment tools and an evaluation guide. By converting this toolkit to a digital platform, in which home-visitors would teach from a tablet, the team could achieve three game-changing things:   

  • Tailor Family Spirit teachings on the spot to individual family challenges and needs, and community level tailoring to include key cultural assets.
  • Update curriculum for all sites at any given time.
  • Train and provide technical assistance to participating communities more effectively.

With support from Suzanne Roberts, we are in the process of developing a lesson prototype to test in the field and also to use during funder meetings.

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