The Family Unit

Strongest Families Program

Through Military Family Services, the Family Liaison Prevention Support and Intervention Program of the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre is offering the Strongest Families Program. The focus of Strongest Families is early intervention through skill-building for cases of mild to moderate childhood problems mental health disorders in children.

The program is designed to address the behavioural challenges of parents often face ing active with children ages 3-12 (e.g., not listening, arguing/talking back, temper outbursts), chasing worries away in children ages 6-12, bed wetting challenges of children ages 5-12, and addressing recurrent headache and abdominal pain in children ages 9-16.

The program was adjusted to resolve the serious problem of access to services mental health programs. “Strongest Families is great because it’s an educational mental health service designed to help children and families in their own homes. This accessibility makes the program really appealing for our military families,” said Kristen Harriet, FLPSI Worker, KMFRC. There is no need to travel or take time off work or school. Help is customized to meet the families’ needs.

Created and run by the Strongest Families Institute, there are three parts to the program, easy-to-read handbooks including weekly skill-focused homework, educational skill-demonstration videos on DVD complementing the handbook by demonstrating skills, and finally weekly telephone coaching support from a trained, non-professional SFI coach at times convenient for the family.

“So, if you are working with your child on the program in the evening or night on the weekend you still have access to yourSFI coaching. The program is geared for convenience,” said Harriet.

The coach works with their supervisor and manager to develop a care plan focused on helping teaching the parent learn and child the skills that will help them manage problems that are interfering with daily living.

“Most program modules consist of twelve weekly sessions with a booster session at 1-2 months. We want to encourage families to use the skills they learned for a long time. We know that every family’s needs are different and timelines can be modified. It’s a really flexible program.”

Coaches reinforce the information contained within the materials provided, and families effectively problem-solve with their coach to ensure the skills are effectively implemented, over the phone. Coaches help military families plan for transitions that may cause behavioural challenges to rise (e.g., deployment, re-integration, postings, training). Parental stress decreases because of consistent skill use. Coaches link parents by phone so both can learn the skills during away times.

“To get started families can come into the KMFRC and fill out a referral form. There are limited spaces, but a family can start anytime, provided there is space. FLPSI staff fax the referral off to the Strongest Families Institute and they take it from there. They actually mail the materials to the families accepted into the program. The materials, handbooks and the DVDs don’t need to be picked up. One of the best parts of this program is the convenience,” said Harriet. The Strongest Families clinician is available for consultation on issues that extend beyond the protocol and for risk management reporting. “With a parent’s permission, the coach will provide any necessary updates to a referring agency to facilitate access to services beyond the scope of the Strongest Families Program.”

Strongest Families Institute is a not-for-profit corporation based in Halifax, Nova Scotia providing evidence-based services to children and families seeking help for mental health and other issues impacting health and well-being. It provides timely care to families by teaching skills through a unique distance coaching approach, supporting families over the phone and internet in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Strongest Families provides family-centered care that is customized to every family’s needs.Two other MFRC sites involved with this pilot project are Saint John’s, Newfoundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

For more information please visit http://KMFRC/ and

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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