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  Free To Grow
  Mailman School
  of Public Health
  Columbia University
  722 West 168th Street,
  8th Floor
  New York, NY 10032

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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.
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Starting Early, Starting Smart (SESS)
Establishing a Continuum of Care: General

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> National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information website

> Casey Family Programs website

Strengthening families whose members have problems with substance abuse and/or mental disorders is difficult because of the differing needs of each family member. Starting Early, Starting Smart, implemented in 12 communities in 1997, is based on research that shows that early identification and intervention helps families function better when services are provided in central and familiar settings. The goal of SESS is to determine the effectiveness of integrating substance abuse and mental health prevention and treatment in primary health care and child care service settings.  Each of the 12 communities chose to integrate services in a variety of ways.  For example, in Boston, family advocates handle case management activities and visit each assigned family in their home. They see families with infants, three to five days old, every two months as necessary, or until the child reaches age two. The advocates also work closely with child development, substance abuse, and mental health specialists. These specialists serve as liaisons with the internal and external agencies (substance abuse treatment, early intervention programs) to create an integrated system of child-centered, family-focused, community-based services.

(Adapted with permission from information on Casey Family Programs' website  2002. Casey Family Programs. All rights reserved.)


Families receiving services in this integrated model had better access to necessary services and better behavioral outcomes.

(Adapted from the Abstract of Early SESS Findings,found on the website of the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information,

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> Assessing costs and benefits of early childhood intervention programs



copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.