In 1996, at the young age of 16, my husband and I became young parents and participated in the Family Spirit Program. Family Spirit gave us exceptional support and helped us develop skills to overcome many challenging situations. Now, 16 years later, I have the privilege to serve as a Family Health Educator with Family Spirit. I feel honored to work with Family Spirit and truly believe the program is changing the lives of many young people in my community.
— Laura Pinal (White Mountain Apache), Family Health Educator
Our Family Spirit affiliates are as diverse as the communities and families they serve, which is a testament to the program’s adaptability to meet different needs.
Currently, Family Spirit affiliates are implementing the program in 20 US states, serving 125 communities. Program delivery occurs primarily in rural and reservation-based communities, but we do have affiliates in urban settings and are expanding in this area.
Our affiliates work within the context of local, state, tribal, and federal organizations. Many of the affiliates are able to devote 100% effort to Family Spirit activities, but others are nested within other programs and services in their organization where they divide their time.
WHO THEY SERVE
Any woman who is pregnant or a caregiver with a child who is less than 3 years old can receive the Family Spirit Program. Other family members are encouraged to participate in lessons. The Family Spirit curriculum is designed to serve families and their children sequentially from before birth until the child’s 3rd birthday. Some affiliates enroll all mothers beginning in pregnancy, while others open enrollment up to families with children at any age until the child’s 3rd birthday. Family Spirit is especially useful for young mothers (under the age of 24) or at-risk mothers.
Home visitors are recruited and hired at the site level and are often the change agents within the program. They are generally female paraprofessionals trained to mastery in the Family Spirit Program. Ideally, home visitors are from the participating community and are familiar with the tribal culture, traditions, and language. Please note that while these are our general recommendations, some affiliates employ their own staffing requirements to which we defer.
Home visitors wear many hats in the realm of Family Spirit. First and foremost, they build rapport with families and children and act as a support system for them during the child’s first years of life. They conduct home visits to deliver Family Spirit curriculum lessons. Sometimes home visits turn into case management or social support visits to provide enhanced assistance to families in times of need. Home visitors also connect families to resources and services in the community. Some Family Spirit affiliates authorize home visitors to provide transportation for families to and from appointments as needed.
Each affiliate must have supervisory staff in place to support home visitors and overall program administration. It is recommended that supervisors have a college degree, or equivalent work experience. Supervisors should also have experience in home visiting, case management, community networking, and staff supervision. Family Spirit recommends 6-10 home visitors per supervisor. This is a recommendation rather than a requirement as each program is unique in its design and scope.