The Families First Program provides home-based early intervention services throughout Missouri at no cost to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing from birth through age 8. Eligibility for the Families First Program is based on a current Deaf or Hard of Hearing diagnosis by a licensed audiologist, which includes an audiogram and evaluation report current within a year. Each family is paired with a SKI-HI certified Parent Advisor who typically will meet with them in their home or other natural environments for one hour per week. Visits are family oriented and individualized with the focus on the family and their child learning new skills through natural environments and routines. Please email or call the Resource Center at 573-592-2543 or 573-592-2572 for further information.
Families receive education through their Parent Advisors on hearing loss, language development, modes of communication, and assistive technologies during the school year. Parent Advisors will coach and support the families in acquiring strategies to facilitate their children's receptive and expressive language acquisition, family communication, vocabulary development, and social-emotional development along with growth in other developmental areas. In addition, the program will help connect parents with their community, state, and national resources to support their children's educational needs.
The Families First Program takes a neutral perspective on all modes and methods of communication and supports parents in making informed decisions about what is most appropriate for their child's unique needs. Parent Advisors will assist families in facilitating their children's vocabulary development and help connect parents with resources to support their chosen communication mode. In addition, the program will help connect parents with their community, state, and national resources to support their children's educational needs.
Parent advisors are professionals from deaf-related fields such as deaf education, speech pathology, audiology, or interpreting, or they have equivalent experience. Some Parent Advisors are deaf or hard of hearing professionals themselves or have family members who are deaf. All Parent Advisors complete the required training in the SKI-HI model curriculum from Utah State University in addition to participating in ongoing professional development. Click on the following link to learn more about becoming a Parent Advisor; Become a Parent Advisor.