Families First is a free early intervention program serving families of deaf and hard of hearing children from birth through age 8 who live anywhere in Missouri. Families requesting assistance are assigned a parent advisor who typically meets with them in their home for one hour per week. Visits are family oriented and focus on learning new skills through natural environments and routines. Jeaneal Alexander is the program coordinator for Families First. Please contact Jeaneal or call the Resource Center at 573-592-2543 for further information.
Families receive education on hearing loss, language development, modes and methods of communication, and assistive technologies. Typical goals include developing and implementing strategies for family communication, developing and implementing strategies to encourage their child's language acquisition and social-emotional development, connecting them with appropriate resources, and providing support and encouragement.
Families First takes a neutral perspective on 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 encourage vocabulary development and help connect parents with resources to support their chosen communication method, but services are designed to augment rather than substitute for taking classes in a communication method.
Parent advisors are professionals in a deaf-related field such as deaf education, speech pathology, audiology, or ASL interpreting, or they have equivalent experience. Some have family members who are deaf. All receive additional training in the SKI-HI model curriculum from Utah State University in addition to ongoing professional development. Become a parent advisor.