FIRST (Families in Recovery SupporT) Steps Together is a home visiting program dedicated to serving and empowering families on their parenting and recovery journey.

FIRST (Families in Recovery SupporT) understands that pregnancy and parenting young children can be a hopeful and exciting time, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming, especially for those struggling with substance use or working on their recovery.

Our program offers specialized support in navigating this complicated experience from peer support specialists and specially trained mental health counselors.

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FIRST has seven sites across Massachusetts that serve parents and expectant parents who have been affected by substance use. We offer voluntary and free services in the home, community or virtually, delivered by a peer support specialist, who is also a parent in recovery, or a mental health counselor with specialized training. We also offer groups and care coordination.

We have seven sites across Massachusetts that serve parents and expectant parents who have been affected by substance use. We also provide opportunities to build parenting and recovery capital through a variety of support groups, individualized clinical support, and referrals to additional services as needed. We can also provide support with basic needs, connecting families to community-based services to help with food, diapers, and housing.


“They really helped me become who I am today. I think if I didn’t have the Counselor and Family Recovery Support Specialist a couple times, I would have given up. I don’t know if I would have made it this far. I always tell them how thankful and grateful I am for them.”

- First Steps Together Program Participant

For Participants

Plymouth County
Bay State Community Services Inc.
400 Washington Street, Suite 201, Braintree, MA 02184
Jennifer Seaberg, Senior Program Director
(857) 939-9681
Betty Doherty, Program Supervisor

Southern Bristol County
Bay State Community Services Inc.
908 Purchase St #308, New Bedford, MA 02740
Jennifer Seaberg, Senior Program Director
(857) 939-9681
Meridith Hallisey, Program Supervisor

Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties
Cape Cod Children’s Place
10 Ballwic Rd. Eastham, MA 02642
Christina Russell, Program Director
(774) 722-3305

Berkshire County
Center for Human Development, Pittsfield Recovery Services141 North St. Suite 307, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Heather Pietras-Gladu, Program Supervisor
(413) 372-9830

Greater Boston
Jewish Family & Children’s Service
1430 Main St. Waltham, MA 02451
La’Shell L. Thompson, Intake and Services Coordinator
(781) 419-6708

Northern Worcester County
Making Opportunity Count
9 Nursery Lane. Suite 201, Fitchburg, MA 01420
Alvina Duffy, FIRST Steps Together Supervisor
(978) 956-3209

Hampden County
Square One
1095 Main St. Springfield, MA 01103
Shalonda Nicholson-Mabry, Program Coordinator
(413) 858-3133

“(My Family Recovery Support Specialist) was wonderful… she kept me hanging on the whole way. No matter how much was on my plate at the time, she did her absolute best to break it down with me. You know, ‘One thing at a time’ and she kept my head level so that I wasn’t so stressed out over different stuff. She was there to walk me through the stuff.”

- First Steps Together Program Participant

For Clinicians

Trauma, Resilience and Relationship in the Brains of Parents and Children
This three-part webinar was designed to help providers more deeply understand the relationship between trauma and resilience. The series looked at the impact of trauma on our brains, the cyclical nature of untreated multi-generational trauma, and the overlap and intersections of trauma and substance use.
Part 1: How Trauma and Resilience Live in our Brains
Part 2: Thinking about Trauma & Resilience in Parent-Child Pairs
Part 3: Trauma and Substance Use Disorder

Understanding and Treating Parent & Child Dyads
This webinar focused on the parent-child dyad, with a brief introduction to how initial and ongoing interactions between parent and child shape future attachment capacities and strengthen our ability to regulate our emotions

Childhood Development Considerations for Home Visitors
This webinar presented an overview of brain development and the importance of attachment, communication, play, and literacy (i.e., reading, writing, talking, listening, crying) in child development. The trainers also shared tips and considerations for home visitors in each of these areas.

Trauma and Trauma Informed Care in Young Children
This webinar provided an overview of the effects of trauma on the brains, bodies, and behavior of children at different ages and developmental stages, and how we as providers can support parents and caregivers to create healing environments.

Understanding and Preventing Burnout

Supporting Families of Children with Special Needs

Understanding CORI Checks

Credit Basics

Racial Inequities in Maternal Health

Introduction to Mothering from the Inside Out

We have created a collection of newsletters and resource sheets on a variety of topics.

Supporting Family Time, Parent Child Visitation

Goal Setting

Program Accomplishments

SAMHSA Recovery Dimensions

Support Groups

Book Sharing as a Tool for Engagement

Working with Dads

Holiday Resources

Supporting New Parents

Forging Partnerships

Mindfulness to Support Parent and Children

Tools to Support Parent/Child Relationships

This guide is a resource for anyone embarking on or expanding their work in building peer-led programs to serve families impacted by substance use. We approached each section of this guide asking ourselves the following questions:

  • If we could have a conversation with someone about this integral piece of the work, what would we want them to know?
  • What can we share, not just about how we do this work, but also the importance of why?
  • What tools are critical to effective service delivery?
  • What resources deepen the understanding of this work?
  • How can we weave in the voices and experiences of those doing the work?

Each section of the guide was written by someone with extensive expertise in the content and then reviewed and refined by staff in multiple positions across this and other complementary projects. This includes staff who: provide direct services to parents in recovery; provide group facilitation training; serve pregnant people and parents in recovery; provide home visiting services; work closely with Child Welfare Services; are involved in hiring and supervising peer staff; and those who work in public health, agency, and project management roles. We paid special attention to the voices and input of those with lived experience and especially those who represent often marginalized populations within the recovery community.

This guide is the compilation of the theory, practice, process and experiences of so many who are doing this rewarding, and at times exhausting, work every day. It contains nine chapters that cover everything from beginning to think about this work, to hiring and building teams, to serving families through home visits and groups and collaborating with partners and systems. It also contains the FIRST STEPS: My Family Portfolio.

The Guide will be released in April. Please contact Nahia Kassas at to receive a copy when it is released.

The FIRST STEPS: My Family Portfolio was designed by parents in recovery to help other parents through their recovery and parenting journeys. It includes tools for safety and wellness planning, goal setting, parent child activities, tips for advocacy, and supports specific to non-custodial parents We hope this resource will strengthen program participants’ recovery capital and parenting skills, to the benefit of the whole family.

The Family Portfolio is included in the Guide and will be released in April. Please contact Nahia Kassas at to receive a copy when it is released.

“(My Family Recovery Support Specialist) was really easy to relate to. She was very open and honest — as much as she could be, to keep it on a professional level. She wasn’t just sharing her experience; she was helping me through mine with what maybe she had learned in the past or how she got through or what helped her. She was there — every difficult time that I was going through — she was there.”

- First Steps Together Program Participant