History of Families First
Families First Health and Support Center has experienced tremendous organizational change and growth since our beginnings as a prenatal clinic in 1984. Since then we have expanded our mission and range of services to meet community needs, as shown by the timeline below.
Portsmouth Prenatal Clinic is established at Portsmouth Hospital to increase access to early and quality prenatal services for pregnant, low-income women and teens. (At left is Dr. Mark Chag of Harbour Women’s Health, our partner in providing prenatal care from 1984 to 2016.)
Parent-aide program begins to provide support to women who delivered babies through the Prenatal Clinic.
Family Center opens. Today, the Family Center offers a variety of year-round groups for parents and families (including parenting classes, parent groups and parent/child activity groups), as well as individualized support for families facing special challenges, usually provided in the home.The support center serves as a model statewide for family support centers.
The agency’s name is changed to “Families First of the Greater Seacoast” to reflect its broader mission.
Families First begins offering comprehensive primary care services in addition to prenatal care. As a full-service community health center, Families First has become the “safety net provider” for the most vulnerable individuals and families in the Seacoast region, including many homeless families.
Both the Health Center and the Family Support Center move to the new Community Campus, a state-of-the-art building in Portsmouth that also houses other non-profit agencies. The programs are now located across the hall from one another, increasing collaboration among staff and making it easier for clients to use all the services available at Families First.
Families First receives its first federal grant, to begin offering mobile health services. The program initially served homeless people; in 2013 it was expanded to serve other vulnerable populations as well. Mobile health care teams provide medical care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and care coordination at shelters, soup kitchens, public housing facililties and other locations. Mobile dental care was added in 2010.
The Dental Center at Families First opened in February, making Families First one of only three community health centers in New Hampshire to provide on-site oral health care. Services include preventive, restorative and emergency care, education and care coordination for children and adults. Families First also has a school-based dental program.
A behavioral health specialist was added to the primary-care team — a cutting-edge model for integrating care for the whole person.
Families First begins offering mobile dental care at Cross Roads House shelter and other sites.
Although Families First has provided health care to senior citizens since 1997, we began offering more services for seniors in 2013 — including senior luncheons and a caregivers group.
A psychiatric nurse practitioner is added to the primary-care team. Also, we begin offering medication-assisted treatment for addiction.