First Steps

Program Manager:  Rita Wagers

Program:  First Steps provides short-term support for expectant parents and parents of children ages 0-5 who do not qualify for or choose not to participate in the long-term home visitation services provided through Healthy Families and Parents As Teachers. Families are offered support, educational materials, community referrals, and follow-up phone calls for a minimum of three months.

Mission Statement: First Steps seeks to enrich family life by helping parents establish positive relationships with their children.



Goals/Outcomes/Measures:  The primary goal of program services is to reduce child abuse and neglect 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.

In 2013, 1319 new mothers received educational materials, referrals, and support through regular phone contacts following the birth of their children through First Steps.

Services: The First Steps program offers support to program participants in four ways:

Quality Assurance Measures: 

Collaboration:   First Steps is part of the array of services offered through Great Start Georgia – Dalton, the community’s early childhood system of care 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.  Great Start Georgia – 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.  Families needing less intensive parenting support are offered services through First Steps.  As part of Great Start Georgia – 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 Governor’s Office for Children and Families, United Way of Northwest Georgia, and contributions.