Child First

Child First is an evidenced based mental health program which helps struggling families build strong, nurturing relationships that heal and protect young children from the impact of trauma and chronic stress. We use a two-generation approach, providing psychotherapy to parents and children together in their homes, and connecting them with the services they need to make healthy child development possible. Child First teams are a diverse group of professionals who are knowledgeable about the communities that they work in. Teams consist of a licensed, Master’s level Clinician and bachelor’s level Care Coordinator, both with significant expertise with very young children and vulnerable families. These teams receive training and reflective supervision to support their work and professional development. Outcomes show that Child First stabilizes families and improves the health and wellbeing of both parents and children. Child First is available to children birth through five who receive NC Medicaid managed care.

Fast Facts

Relevant Actions
State or Local? Local
CountiesBeaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Guilford, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Martin, Mecklenburg, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, Washington, WIlson
Lead Agency National Service Office of Nurse Family Partnership and Child First
Type of Lead Agency


  • The Child First network currently consists of 5 affiliate sites with 38 teams working across 26 counties in Eastern, NC and serves approximately 700 children annually. With Medicaid transformation, Child First plans to expand existing programs and replicate in new areas of the state bringing increased opportunity for recruitment and training of Infant Mental Health Clinicians.
  • Child First tracks community needs and service provision. 2019 NC outcomes include: 71% of caregivers experienced reduced parenting stress, 72% of caregivers and children experienced an improved parent-child relationship, and 69% of children improved their communication.
  • With Medicaid transformation, Child First will address barriers to insurance coverage through an EPSDT service definition, which will promote the use of the DC:0-5 as the diagnostic classification system that reflects the developmental needs of children birth through five, allow for children with non-specific diagnostic codes to be eligible for services, and will provide “medically necessary services” for children birth through five to include prevention and treatment of mental health concerns and conditions.
Next Steps
  • Gain interest among managed care organizations to contract with affiliate sites for Child First services
  • Recruit new affiliate sites
  • Train new affiliate staff
Primary Partners
  • Kids First
  • Power of U
  • Easter Seals UCP
  • Coastal Horizons
Primary Funders


Contact Diane Britz

Active Counties