The Family Resource Program (FRP) Sector is well-rooted in the community. History shows one of the Nova Scotia Association of Family Resource Programs (NSAFRP) member organizations has delivered family resource-type programs and services since the late 1800s. Other member organizations worked in this area before the Federal Government’s Brighter Futures Initiative in the early 1990s. This Federal Government initiative, from which both the Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) and the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP) emerged, launched the broader Sector across Atlantic Canada.
Supported by the Federal Government through Health Canada (currently the Public Health Agency of Canada), the Sector was mandated to focus on the earliest years of children’s lives–from birth to six years of age. As federal funding resources expanded, the prenatal period was added as an additional primary focus area. The work was oriented to reach an intended population. Therefore, Sector programs and services were tailored to engage families having the least access to available resources. Strong guiding principles and emerging knowledge regarding the Social Determinants of Health supported the growth and development of the Sector.
With the addition of Provincial Government supports, primarily from the Nova Scotia Government’s Departments of Community Services, Education and Early Childhood Development, and Health and Wellness (through the District Health Authorities), the Sector welcomed the ability to expand its reach geographically and demographically. Outreach extended the Sector's reach into additional rural communities, aligning program delivery better with the province's geography. Funding from the Department of Community Services dramatically increased financial support for FRPs, in some cases doubling their budgets, and allowed the establishment of FRPs in areas that did not have such services available.
Initially grounded in hosting individual and group programs, the methods of service delivery grew to include strong home-based components, such as Enhanced Home Visiting or Parenting Journey programs and regulated childcare programs. Also, some FRPs included school-aged children and youth both within and outside of the formal education system.
Since inception, Family Resource Programs have promoted the health and well-being of Nova Scotian families. The Sector supports parents, extended family members, caregivers, and others to co-create home and community environments that help optimize child and family development. The Sector is guided, in part, by the Social Determinants of Health. The Early Years Framework, a guiding document produced through the work of the Provincial Early Years Partnership (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development), has also influenced the ongoing development and expansion of the Early Childhood Sector, including the FRPs in Nova Scotia.
Over this period, tens of thousands of children, parents, family members, and childcare providers have visited FRPs millions of times. Collectively, they have participated in many responsive programs, services, and supports that have grown and changed with them.
As the Sector matured, the Nova Scotia Association of Family Resource Programs (NSAFRP) was formed (December 7, 2013) to maximize opportunities for collective work. The Association has 25 member agencies. There are additional family resource centres in Nova Scotia not included within this Sector definition and profile. Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) are located on Canadian Armed Forces Bases and Wings. Military Family Resource Centres provide the Military Family Services Program designed to address the challenges of military lifestyles such as frequent relocations and deployments.