Health—General & Rehabilitative

Families First of the Greater Seacoast

  • Portsmouth, NH

Mission Statement

The mission of Families First Health & Support Center is to contribute to the health and well-being of the Seacoast community by providing a broad range of health and family services to all, regardless of ability to pay.

Families First is an independent community health center and family resource center serving the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern Maine.

Main Programs

  1. Primary and Prenatal Health Care
  2. Dental Care
  3. Mobile Health Care
  4. Parenting and Family Programs
  5. Behavioral Health / Substance Abuse Treatment
Service Areas


New Hampshire

Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern Maine

ruling year


Executive Director since 1989


Ms. Helen B. Taft



primary care, home visiting, health care, behavioral health, prenatal, family support, parenting, dental care, homelessness

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Also Known As

Families First Health & Support Center





Physical Address

100 Campus Drive Suite 12

Portsmouth, NH 03801 5892


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Community Health Systems (E21)

Family Services (P40)

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

Families First is a safety net for low-income, uninsured and homeless people who would not otherwise have access to medical and dental care. Its parenting classes, family programs and home visiting decrease the likelihood of child abuse and neglect and help strengthen all families.

Other ways the entire community benefits when all residents have access to high-quality health care and family support include:
• Having access to health care and prescription drugs at a very low cost at Families First leaves residents with more income to spend on other necessities such as rent, emergency housing, heating bills and food — reducing the demands placed on governments to provide such services, and reducing the risk of homelessness.
• Good medical and dental care keeps children in school, ready to learn, and for adults can make the difference between being employed and paying taxes, or unemployed and in need of government services.
• Preventive health care reduces avoidable hospitalizations and inappropriate use of the emergency room, the costs of which are passed on to the entire community through higher insurance premiums, taxes and hospital rates.
• By increasing the protective factors that insulate children and families from risks of child abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and criminal behavior, Families First's parenting and family programs promote a stronger and safer community. The burden on schools, law-enforcement and child-protection placement agencies is reduced as well


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Primary and Prenatal Health Care

A family practice offering affordable medical care for men, women and children, including chronic disease management, preventive exams, acute-illness care and round-the-clock coverage. Also, comprehensive prenatal care for teens and low-income women, including obstetric care, nutrition counseling, substance abuse counseling and social work services.


Health Care

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General





Program 2

Dental Care

Ongoing preventive, restorative and emergency care, provided in a community health center setting. Also, a school-based oral health education, screening, cleaning and sealant program and a mobile dental program for people experiencing homelessness.


Health Care

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General





Program 3

Mobile Health Care

Mobile health care teams provide primary care, substance abuse counseling, dental care and social work services to people at shelters, public housing facilities and other sites convenient for homeless and other people with low incomes, throughout a two-county area in New Hampshire.


Health Care

Population(s) Served


Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General




Program 4

Parenting and Family Programs

Parenting classes and parent support groups, with free child care to make it easier for familes to attend.

"Family Fun Night," a weekly dinner and activity program for homeless families

Play/education groups for parents with their babies, toddlers and preschoolers

Individualized family support, including care coordination and home visiting, targeted at families with special needs such as being at risk for child abuse and neglect, having a chronically ill child, or having other risk factors.


Human Services

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)


Single Parents



Program 5

Behavioral Health / Substance Abuse Treatment

In 2008, Families First Health Center added a full-time behavioral/mental health counselor to our primary-care team. We were among the first practices in our region to use this integrated model. This not only increases access to behavioral and mental health services (which are in short supply locally), but fully integrates them with primary care, addressing the strong link between mental and physical health and the prevalance of comorbid medical and mental conditions. Patients usually are introduced to our behavioral health counselor by their medical provider right in the exam room, which maximizes the patient’s receptivity and reduces the stigma some feel around receiving mental health services. Patients are referred not only for mental health issues, but also for help addressing physical health conditions that are impacted by behaviors like diet and exercise. The counselor normally meets with patients for up to six brief, solution-focused (goal-setting) visits. He can also help patients access traditional mental health therapy if needed.

Families First also provides substance-abuse counseling and Medication-Assisted Treatment.


Health Care

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The following goals and objectives re from our Strategic Plan for 2012-2015:

    Goal A: Ensure that integrated primary health care and dental services address growing community needs as well as requirements and opportunities that arise through health care reform.

    Goal B: Provide supportive services that contribute to the health and well-being of parents, families and seniors – especially those experiencing stress or isolation.

    Goal C: Implement care-coordination and quality-improvement programs that enhance clients' experience at Families First, improve outcomes, and reduce overall health care costs.

    Goal D: Invest in the organizational capacities necessary to assure the excellence and sustainability of Families First's services.

    The Strategic Plan lists several objectives under each goal. Sample objectives include:

    Continue strengthening clinical and reporting capabilities to maximize our benefit from payment-reform programs and to renew our highest-level national recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home.

    Recruit a physician and nurse practitioner in order to maximize patient revenues and to better meet demand for services – both existing unmet need and increased demand that may result from more people becoming insured under the ACA.

    Open our dental practice to more senior citizens.

    Continue adding more health and support programs for seniors, and increase marketing to seniors.

    Increase patient recruitment efforts and encourage patient retention in order to benefit from the growth in number of people who have health insurance due to the ACA.

    Utilize Strategic Development Committee to conduct ongoing environmental scanning and strategic positioning discussions.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Goal A Strategies (Primary Care and Dental Care)

    A1) Primary Care
    Families First will maintain and enhance comprehensive, integrated primary-care services including medical, behavioral health, care coordination, nutrition, substance abuse, developmental screenings for children, cancer screenings, and disease-management education. Families First will support access to these services through a sliding fee scale for the uninsured, transportation, translation, child care and medication assistance.

    A2) Prenatal Care
    Families First will maintain and enhance comprehensive, integrated clinical services, including obstetric care, care coordination, nutrition counseling, substance abuse counseling, and home visiting. Families First will support access to these services through assistance with Medicaid-enrollment, a sliding fee scale for the uninsured, transportation, translation, child care and medication assistance.

    A3) Health Care for the Homeless
    Families First will maintain and enhance comprehensive, integrated clinical services, including mobile vans for community-based medical care and dental care, care coordination, substance abuse counseling and mental health counseling. Families First will support access to these services through vehicles, drivers and mobile equipment needed to provide care in the field; translation; prescription assistance; and no-cost, drop-in appointments offered at sites convenient for the homeless.

    A4) Dental Services
    Families First will maintain and enhance preventive, restorative and emergency dental care and oral health education for children and adults, and will integrate these services with the agency's primary care, prenatal, mobile health care for the homeless and family support programs.

    Goal B Strategies (Support for Parents, Families and Seniors)
    Families First will maintain and enhance parent and family programs, including parenting classes, parent groups, playgroups and other parent-child programs, one-to-one coaching and support in the home, and child care for families using services at the Community Campus.

    Goal C Strategies (Care Coordination and Quality Improvement)
    C1) Care Coordination
    Families First will maintain and enhance embedded (“point of service") care coordination services across primary care, prenatal, health care for the homeless, dental, and family support home-visiting programs.
    C2) Quality Improvement
    Families First will maintain or create Quality Improvement (QI) plans for the primary care, prenatal, homeless, dental, behavioral health and family support programs.

    Goal D Strategies (Organizational Capacity)
    To support the programs and services described under the preceding goals, Families First will maintain and enhance its capacities in Human Resources; Financial Resource Development; Marketing and Communications; Information Technology, Facilities and Fleet; Financial Management; and Monitoring and Planning.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Families First is a key player in addressing the biggest public health problems confronting our region and state and in advocating for increased access to care. When a group is formed at the state or regional level to address public health problems or service gaps, Families First Executive Director Helen Taft and/or other staff are very often included -- because of our reputation for capacity, expertise and a can-do attitude. We are committed to continuing to play that role even in this difficult economic climate. Ms. Taft and other staff have long participated in groups working on such issues as promoting and advocating for the integrated and comprehensive model of health care; assuring quality of care and outcomes measurement; access to oral health care; and ending homelessness.

    Our board and staff's willingness to be proactive in identifying unmet community needs and finding ways to meet those needs has led to us to integrate many complementary services with primary care. Examples include on-site dental care (in 2003) and behavioral health care (in 2008).

    Staff retention is strong, resulting in a wealth of expertise and institutional memory. Ms. Taft has led the organization through significant growth since joining the agency in 1989. She chairs the NH Oral Health Coalition Steering Committee and has been an officer of the Board of Directors of the Community Health Access Network and BiState Primary Care Association. Eight of our 13 Management Team members have worked at Families First for at least a decade.

    Our Board is diverse, active and engaged. More than half of the 19 members are Families First patients, lending an important consumer perspective.

    Families First is a past recipient of the Dunfey Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Our Family Center and Health Center use a variety of tools to measure progress toward outcomes.

    In the Family Center, to measure parents' progress in building protective factors in their families, we administer a survey to participants annually that asks them to rate how much Families First's parent and family programs have helped them with various issues. The issues included in the survey relate to building “protective factors" that researchers have identified as reducing the likelihood that children will grow up to abuse substances or become involved in criminal activity when they grow up. (Protective factors include close family relationships, consistency of parenting, and clear parental expectations regarding alcohol and other drug use.)

    At the Health Center, measurement tools include chart reviews, client surveys, and operational data. Each patient seen at Families First has an integrated electronic medical record (EMR) that includes notes from their medical providers, dentists, care coordinators, home visitors and other Families First health care providers. This record makes it easy to monitor and report on measures reflecting quality of care. For example, the EMR makes it easier to identify those at risk for disease and those who are not receiving recommended services. It can generate aggregate data on whether patients are getting the recommended screenings and the results of those screenings.

    Under the leadership of our Quality Improvement Director, a registered nurse, we choose outcome targets for each program based on national, statewide and agency performance measures. Through this process, we are able to compare our progress against our local, state, and national counterparts, and against best-practice standards.

    We know we are making progress when program outcomes as well as objectives in our Strategic Plan are met. For instance, measures of success include receiving increased revenues through payment-reform programs that tie reimbursement to outcomes; having our recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home renewed (achieved in February 2014); and hiring additional providers in order to see more patients (achieved).

    We use a “Dashboard" report that compiles key measures of the agency's health and our progress on individual program goals and goals relating to integration of programs. The Dashboard is updated by Management Team members quarterly, after which each measure is discussed during a Management Team meeting. When results fall short of the goal, we discuss reasons and action steps to improve the situation in the future. Individual program teams undertake a similar process with their own outcomes.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    In February 2014, we obtained renewed recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Patient-Centered Medical Home at Level 3, the highest level.

    In 2013, we accomplished the following in support of objectives from our 2012-2014 Strategic Plan:

    • Continuing to improve our clinical systems and reporting capabilities in order to benefit from payment-reform programs that tie reimbursement to health outcomes. These include Medicaid Meaningful Use (use of electronic medical records to track and improve outcomes); a medical home demonstration project under which we receive a per-member-per-month reimbursement from Medicare; and Medicaid Care Management, which the State of New Hampshire is implementing this fall.
    • Expanding eligibility for our Dental Center to selected high-risk populations even if not Families First Health Center patients — including some senior citizens, patients referred through Exeter Hospital's ER; and cancer patients.
    • Providing a multidisciplinary group for overweight children and their parents.
    • Partnering with the City of Portsmouth, Wentworth Home, ServiceLink and others to bring new programs for seniors, caregivers and dementia patients to the Community Campus.
    • Completing a very comprehensive agency self-assessment in preparation for making decisions about appropriate partnerships with other service providers.

    Program outcomes are also an important indication of success, and as more insurers institute payment-reform programs, these outcomes are also key to our financial sustainability. Examples include these outcomes from fiscal year 2013:
     96% of babies delivered to women in our prenatal program weighed at least 5.5 pounds.
     91% of 2-year-olds were up-to-date on their immunizations.
     91% of eligible children are enrolled in Medicaid.
     70% of patients with hypertension had sustained control of their blood pressure.
     Parents who participated in our parent & family programs said these programs helped with encouraging good behavior (88%), knowing how to discipline children without shaming, yelling, name-calling or putting down (93%), and knowing what helps children learn (82%).

    In an October 2012 Kaiser Health News analysis of federal data on the nation's nearly 1,200 community health centers, Families First exceeded the national average on all seven health-outcome measures studied. (The seven measures related to diabetes, early entry to prenatal care, infant birthweight, cervical cancer screening, hypertension, childhood vaccinations and asthma.) We are particularly proud that the rate of low-birth weight for those born through our prenatal program is always in the very low single digits, as compared to a national average of 7.4%.

    One area from our Strategic Plan that has not yet been accomplished is meeting our need for more space to provide programs. We have a Space Committee working on this.
Service Areas


New Hampshire

Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern Maine

Additional Documents

Social Media

Funding Needs

Fees for service and government contracts comprise approximately 65% of our annual budget. This leaves us needing to raise the remaining 35% -- approximately $1.5 million -- through grants and individual and corporate contributions. The amounts we need to raise for individual programs in fiscal year 2011 are:$827,000 for primary and prenatal care; $219,000 for dental care; $296,000 for parent and family programs; and $166,000 for mobile health care for the homeless.

Affiliations + Memberships

National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)



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Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Families First of the Greater Seacoast
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Families First of the Greater Seacoast



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Executive Director

Ms. Helen B. Taft


Families First Executive Director Helen B. Taft has led the agency since December 1989. She holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of New Hampshire. She has served on the boards of directors at Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, the United Way of Manchester, the Manchester League of Women Voters, Community Health Access Network, BiState Primary Care Association, and United Way of the Greater Seacoast.



Linda Sanborn CPA, MBA

Baker Newman Noyes

Term: Sept 2012 - Sept 2014


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?