IMHP began as a Toronto specific organization, however is steadily building a national presence as a champion for infants and toddlers. Currently our goal is to broaden our reach by making training and resources more easily available to those outside the Greater Toronto Area through a variety of initiatives, including:
- webcast and videoconference options for training
- the development of online learning modules for use in staff training and independent study
- creating a network and directory of services, organizations and events across Canada
- national advocacy campaigns and initiatives
IMHP has become identified as the "voice" for infants and families in the community. We have gained a reputation as a credible and viable organization and are being called by a variety of agencies, individuals and networking groups, locally, nationally and internationally for information on infants and resources to meet their needs or to represent infant interests.
PHASE 1 - FORMATION
In 1988, a number of professional and parent representatives from a variety of agencies providing care to infants and their families were brought together by the department of Psychiatry at The Hospital for Sick Children. A coalition was formed with the goal of promoting the development of infants so that they are given the best chance to become healthy and successful children and adults.
PHASE 2 - ESTABLISHING THE NEED
Our 1989 IMHP needs assessment found substantial research and clinical evidence that experiences in the first three years of life have a dramatic impact on future ability to learn, cope, work and form satisfying relationships throughout life. Risk factors were identified as well as a variety of interventions which demonstrated that adverse outcomes can be prevented when parents and other caregivers are provided with information support which enables them to be responsive to their babies.
Twelve recommendations were proposed to meet objectives of:
- Establishing a high priority for infant well-being in policy and funding
- Identification of resources available and of gaps in service to infants and families
- Providing specialized education programs and support to service providers as a means of enhancing quality of care
- Increasing responsiveness of services to the needs of parents
- Raising society's awareness of the vulnerability of our infants and its responsibility for their outcomes.
PHASE 3 - IMPLEMENTING AND ADVANCING THE RECOMMENDATIONS
To meet these objectives, IMHP spearheaded a systematic and coordinated approach to enhancing the system of care provided to infants and their families. Initiatives have included:
- Publication of a membership newsletter, IMPRINT (See Resources/ IMPRINT)
- Public forums which have brought wider attention to the important needs of infants and their families
- Creating partnerships to find solutions to issues identified
- Developing education materials such as our video series "A Simple Gift, and the accompanying guides. (See Resources - A Simple Gift)
- Well attended and positively evaluated education programs for front-line workers from a variety of backgrounds (See IMHP Events)
Results have been:
- Increased appreciation of the development and needs of infants and their parents and resources to meet their needs
- Increased knowledge and skills of service providers from a variety of settings and disciplines
- New networks established
- Newspaper, radio and television coverage on related issues
- More developmentally appropriate legal decisions for infants
- New community programs for high risk families.