First Steps

Program Manager:  Rita Wagers

Program: As part of the Georgia Home Visiting Program, First Steps works alongside Georgia Home Visiting Program evidence-based home visiting programs in our community to provide a continuum of parenting support to expectant parents and those with children ages 0-5.  First Steps provides an initial in-person screening visit to all referred Whitfield and Murray parents to identify family strengths and needs and offer the appropriate level of support to assist parents in meeting those needs.  Families served through First Steps receive a parent information packet with age-appropriate information regarding maternal health, newborn/child health, safety (i.e., child, family, home, and community safety), school readiness, and family economic self-sufficiency.  A community resource guide is also provided and is used to link families with relevant resources within the community, including Georgia Home Visiting Program home visiting services (e.g., Healthy Families Georgia Dalton and Parents as Teachers) for those families in need of additional support.

In 2021,First Steps screened 1,087 Whitfield and Murray County families via established referral sources including Hamilton Medical Center and local WIC clinics.  All families screened receive a parent information packet, as well as a community resource guide.      

For the family of a newborn, the rewards and demands of parenthood are endless!  During pregnancy, at the time of birth, and when a baby comes home, there will be some ups and downs and many unanswered questions.  Families of newborns often feel overwhelmed, but these feelings are normal and shared by all new parents.  First Steps staff members help parents overcome challenges and prepare them for the new addition to their family.


Goals/Outcomes/Measures: The primary goal of program services is to strengthen families’ concrete connections, and, in turn, build protective factors, by providing parents with relevant and age-appropriate information on the following topics: maternal health, newborn and child health, child safety, early learning, family violence, and self-sufficiency.

Quality Assurance Measures: Quarterly deliverable reports are submitted to the Department of Public Health (DPH).  Semi-annual deliverable reports are submitted to the Department of Human Services (DHS).  These reports monitor compliance, link program outcomes with community benchmarks of family well-being, and provide demographic information regarding individuals served.  Program reports completed this year indicate that all services are being provided as required by DPH and DHS.

Collaboration: First Steps is part of the array of services offered through the Georgia Home Visiting Program – Dalton, the community’s continuum of early childhood supports and services originally established through a partnership between the Governor’s Office for Children and Families and the Georgia Department of Public Health.  Locally, this partnership is maintained through on-going collaboration between the Family Support Council and the North Georgia Health District.  Georgia Home Visiting Program – Dalton provides a single point of entry for all expectant parents and parents of children ages 0-5 to community resources available to address family needs.  As part of the Georgia Home Visiting Program – Dalton, the program partners with Hamilton Medical Center, the local health department, local DFCS, etc., to ensure that families receive the support they need. 

Program Funding: First Steps receives funding from the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Health, the Alan S. Lorberbaum Family Foundation, United Way of Northwest Georgia, and private donations.