Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Fair Start for Children: Lessons Learned from Seven Demonstration Projects Edited by Mary Larner, Robert Halpern and Oscar Harkavy

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Fair Start for Children: Lessons Learned from Seven Demonstration Projects Edited by Mary Larner, Robert Halpern and Oscar Harkavy

Article excerpt

Fair Start for Children: Lessons Learned from Seven Demonstration Projects is a well-written and coherent collection of edited chapters describing an initiative designed to alleviate some of the problems facing America's children of poverty. The program called Child Survival/A Fair Start for Children (CS/FS) was funded through grants from the Ford Foundation between 1982 and l989. The preventive outreach program targeted disadvantaged parents in seven diverse American communities: Mexican-origin families in the barrios of Texas, young black mothers in rural Alabama, isolated mothers in Appalachian communities, recent Haitian immigrants living in south Florida, Mexican-American migrant farmworkers, adolescent mothers in several urban areas, and Caribbean families in New York City. The goals of CS/FS's interventions were to facilitate child development, and support and enhance parenting.

The project developers chose home visits as the medium for providing education and support to families, and staffed all seven projects with paraprofessionals from the communities to ensure that community and cultural values were respected, to aid in recruiting and access to families, and to lend credibility to the program's suggestions.

The body of this book contains a recounting of experiences from each of the seven project teams as they struggled to design services to fit community needs, implement the service programs, and evaluate the results. Six of the seven projects focused their interventions at the individual or family level, working one-to-one with low-income families to provide improved access to health services, information, and social support during pregnancy and childrearing. The seventh project focused more broadly on institutional change by impacting hospital policies to improve access to and increased use of maternal and child preventive health services. The personal experiences of project teams recounted in the individual project chapters are complimented by concluding chapters written by the editors that provide a cross-project perspective of some of the lessons learned from this comprehensive program. …

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