Nurturing the Seed: A Collaborative Journey to Infant Mental Health and Wellness: Phase One
Despite the known value of culturally meaningful practice in supporting mental health in Indigenous communities, there lacks culturally informed developmental assessment tools and interventions. Nurturing the Seed was designed to address this gap by providing tools to frontline practitioners who support the developmental needs of Indigenous children. These children are at greater risk for poor outcomes in part due to intergenerational familial trauma. Developed by Infant Mental Health Promotion with key stakeholders, NTS melds worldviews and practices of Indigenous communities with evidence-based assessment tools and customized developmental support planning utilizing a relational approach. This thesis project was the initial part of a longitudinal, multi-part study to evaluate implementation of NTS in community. This project aimed to: (1) establish a research project to evaluate NTS in self-identified communities with methodology acceptable to both community members and the research team; and (2) train community service providers to adopt a culturally informed approach to supporting Indigenous children and families and in the skills and knowledge they need to implement a research project. In six Canadian Indigenous communities, champions and leadership created a Community Steering Committee which included indigenous community representatives, childcare practitioners and Elders who provided cultural consultation on program design, methodology, and implementation. This was followed by a 3-day training led by IMHP to equip practitioners with infant mental health knowledge, ability to administer the developmental screening tool, and individualized developmental support plans using NTS. A pre/post training knowledge survey was used to evaluate training knowledge transfer. Overall, there was positive uptake of the research program in all communities. Worker scores on training surveys increased from pre to post-survey, suggesting a positive knowledge transfer to the workers from the training. Attitudes and beliefs that were also examined in pre/post-surveys did not show a significant change on average, suggesting that staff had some prior motivation and were open minded to training material. Results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of establishing a multi-site, community-based participatory research program aimed at improving long-term child outcomes. Future analyses will examine developmental outcomes in children who receive the intervention and practice change among community service providers.