Amy is th e Early Childhood Coordinator with Capital Health/ Public Health in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The public health sector offers many opportunities for Child and Youth Study graduates with an interest in early development, parent child relationships and work in health care settings.
As a specialist member of the Healthy Beginnings: Enhanced Home Visiting team, she provides support in the form of intervention plans, information, and advice to Public Health Nurses, Community Home Visitors and parents on issues related to infant and child development. In some cases she accompanies team members on home visits to observe and determine if families should be referred to early intervention or other specialist programs.
Her various practicum experiences helped Amy develop the skills necessary for working effectively with families. At the Chebucto Family Centre, Amy expanded her awareness of the challenges many families face and the community resources available, such as playgroups, early intervention, and resource centres. “My coursework at the Mount provided me a great deal of knowledge about healthy infant/child development. I draw on that understanding every day in my work,” says Amy.
Along with acting as a consultant to Public Health Nurses and Community Home Visitors, Amy oversees an infant developmental screening program. This program is designed to identify developmental concerns, increase parents’ knowledge of typical infant/child development and assist them in providing their children with opportunities and activities that encourage development in certain targeted areas.
In today’s economy many families may not have access to a bus system or have a strong financial background. Therefore, Amy emphasizes that the things parents do every day with their children can be turned into teachable moments. “I want to increase their confidence in parenting because so many people are judged by others or given constant suggestions,” Amy explains. “It’s important that they feel they’re doing a good job.”
Since much of her contact with parents is over the phone, offering suggestions can be difficult for Amy when she is unable to observe the child’s behaviour or family situation first-hand. She finds it most challenging when an infant or child has an identified developmental delay or concern, but parents do not see it as a concern. “I find it’s really important to be warm and friendly and to build a relationship, because chances are if you have that relationship they will call back.”
Amy started her career working at a single parent centre. After, she trained and interned to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, and most recently worked as a Community Home Visitor before becoming the Early Childhood Coordinator for Public Health.
“Take advantage of the opportunity to have diverse practicum experiences and even if it’s not something you know you want to do for sure – it’s all about getting the experience,” Amy advises students. “My biggest recommendation is to use practicum to figure out what you want to do. It’s important for people to know what’s out there.”