Head Start Tobacco Cessation Initiative

Head Start Tobacco Cessation Initiative

Tobacco Free Northeast PA, on behalf of the Coalition Regional (Carbon, Luzerne Monroe, Wyoming) Workgroup partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Legacy and the Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training, University of Massachusetts Medical School for their 2014 community project.

The goals of the project were to identify an agency and provide in-depth training to staff to reinforce a very important message –the effects of all tobacco use and second-hand smoke, both indoors and outdoors, is hazardous and harmful. Secondly, have agency staff reach a large audience of expectant and parenting adultsof at-risk babies, toddlers and pre-school children with that important message.  This can be a difficult and uncomfortable message to deliver as it is sometimes misinterpreted by adults as being told what to do.  In addition tobacco users don’t often like to hear that something they do frequently or worse, regularly, can pose dangerous health and developmental risks to their child.

Luzerne County Head Start/Early Head Start was selected and contacted. The Executive Director did not need to be convinced. She recognized there was a need for this valuable training and appreciated the opportunity. Staff to be trained was identified.   Those selected monitored the health requirements and status of program enrollees and/or worked closely with the families.  Two Head Start Tobacco Cessation Initiative trainings were scheduled one month apart.  Three days of intense training were provided at no cost to Luzerne County Head Start/Early Head Start which included staff from the Wilkes Barre, Hazelton and Nanticoke sites.

The first, Impact of Tobacco, was provided by the Legacy Associate Vice-President of Program Development and Priority Populations.  This training was a comprehensive overview of all tobacco products, e-cigarettes and hookah. Also discussed in detail were the devastating health consequences of tobacco use and second and third- hand smoke exposure, tobacco cessation, pharmacotherapy, and tobacco industry marketing practices.

National and local tobacco treatment resources were provided to participants by Tobacco Free Northeast PA.

The second, Applying Motivational Interviewing in Head Start Programs, was provided by a  Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training, University of Massachusetts Medical School instructor who is also a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers.  Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change (Miller and Rollnick, 2013*) The focus of this training was to introduce the basic principles and techniques of Motivational Interviewing and provide the opportunity for hands-on experience to help Head Start staff apply the spirit of Motivational Interviewing in their everyday work with families.

Staff participant training evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. As a result of this very successful project, it has been approved by the PA Department of Health to be rolled out as a 10 county Northeast Region pilot in 2015.  The pilot trainings will be expanded to include pediatric asthma.

*Miller RM & Rollnick S. Motivational Interviewing, Third Edition: Helping People Change (Applications of Motivational Interviewing.) Guilford Press 2013

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