Received: 6 April 2019 / Revised: 10 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 18 May 2019
Since the 1990s, a number of multi-service prevention programs working with women who have substance use, mental health, or trauma and/or related social determinants of health issues have emerged in Canada. These programs use harm reduction approaches and provide outreach and “one-stop” health and social services on-site or through a network of services.
While some of these programs have been evaluated, others have not, or their evaluations have not been published. This article presents interim qualitative findings of the Co-Creating Evidence project, a multi-year (2017–2020) national evaluation of holistic programs serving women at high risk of having an infant with prenatal alcohol exposure.
The evaluation utilizes a mixed-methods design involving semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, and client intake/outcome “snapshot” data.
Findings demonstrated that the programs are reaching vulnerable pregnant/parenting women who face a host of complex circumstances including substance use, violence, child welfare involvement, and inadequate housing; moreover, it is typically the intersection of these issues that prompts women to engage with programs. Aligning with these results, key themes in what clients liked best about their program were: staff and their non-judgmental approach; peer support and sense of community; and having multiple services in one location, including help with mandated child protection.