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DOH's newest program: Family Voices in American Samoa

DOH officials, including Dr. Glenn Gabbard (center in green)

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Assessments and training are ongoing at the local Dept. of Health for the establishment of the territory’s first Family-to-Family Health Information Center, tentatively set to open later this year in the summer.

According to DOH, the new center will support family-centered care for all children and youth with special healthcare needs, their families, as well as the communities where they live, by providing information, training, resources, and advocacy.

The center is made possible by a four-year grant that was awarded to DOH, and its key partners, on Aug. 31, 2018

"It will build well-informed, experienced groups of parents and healthcare providers, fully committed to the priorities and concerns of families," according to DOH.

The new center has four goals: (1) develop family leaders; (2) provide training and one-on-one support to families with children and young adults with special healthcare needs; (3) build strategies for all agencies who support children and young adults with special healthcare needs so they can better work together; and (4) support how information about these children and young adults can be shared more effectively among agencies.

Key partners who supported the application include Sandra Scanlan, founder of Parents of Children with Special Needs Network; Tafaimamao Tupuola, director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities; and Teresa Atuatasi, DOE SPED director.

The infrastructure of the center will be built and strengthened under the support of all community key stakeholders: parents and families of children and young adults with special needs; individuals with special needs; healthcare professionals; service providers; and educators. It will also have an advisory board, whose members will include families whose lives have been touched by these children.

Dr. Glenn Gabbard, a Family Voices consultant, arrived Thursday, Jan. 24 to assist the Family to Family center staff for one week, with needs assessment, as well as training and resources invaluable to start the project. One of the deliverables for the first eight months of the project is to complete a needs assessment to determine the baseline data for the CYSHCN population, as well as technical assistance needs. Dr. Gabbard will be spearheading this effort.

The American Samoa Family to Family Center is currently being managed by Ipuniuesea Eliapo Unutoa who also coordinates the Rheumatic Heart Disease Prevention and Control Program at DOH. For more information, contact Unutoa at 684-633-4008 or email <>