Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) action plan activities

Taking Action on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder 2016–2019: An action plan is a cross-agency plan that will be implemented over 3 years.

The Ministry of Health, Education, Oranga Tamariki and the Health Promotion Agency jointly govern the FASD action plan. Implementing the activities also involves the Ministries of Primary Industries, Justice, the Department of Corrections and the New Zealand Police as a significant proportion of their clients are affected by FASD.

The goals of the cross-agency plan is FASD is prevented and people with FASD and their family/whānau live the best possible lives. The plan includes four priority areas, ten specific actions and 39 activities under each of the specific actions.

Four priority action areas

  1. Prevention
  2. Early identification
  3. Support
  4. Evidence

Ten specific actions

1. Increase collaboration and coordination to better support activities aimed at shifting New Zealand’s drinking culture and targeting harmful alcohol consumption

  1. Establish an interagency group to develop, implement and monitor a collaborative approach aimed at shift NZ’s drinking culture
  2. Extend existing culture change campaigns eg ‘Say Yeah/Nah’ campaign
  3. Support the Healthy Families communities to focus on alcohol harm reduction
  4. Review the Ministry of Health’s public health contracts and service specifications to ensure health promotion activities have a focus on preventing FASD and align with cross-agency priorities
  5. Investigate options for increasing alcohol and drug prevention activity in schools
  6. Encourage youth offending teams to consider the effects of alcohol on offending in their communities and incorporate strategies to reduce harmful use as part of their action plans

2. Develop and disseminate clear, unambiguous and consistent messages to increase the whole community’s awareness of the risks of drinking during pregnancy, including FASD

  1. Produce two key resources on alcohol and pregnancy – one for consumers and one for professionals – and use them to update existing government resources and make it easy for others to build similar messages into their own resources
  2. Extend the public education campaign on alcohol and pregnancy
  3. Provide guidance on alcohol and pregnancy for schools as they develop and implement their own curriculum
  4. Formally review the success of the coverage, consistency and effectiveness of the voluntary alcohol warning label initiative in both Australia and New Zealand

3. Support primary care to provide high-quality, responsive and equitable maternity care, including screening and brief intervention for alcohol

  1. Work with professional colleges to update clinical guidelines on alcohol and pregnancy and embed evidence-based interventions and messages into core workforce competencies
  2. Review the current funding arrangements for primary maternity care to improve equity and flexibility and make alcohol screening, intervention and data collection routine
  3. Develop and promote an e-learning module that covers alcohol and pregnancy risks and the basics of FASD, which can be tailored for different professions and attract professional development credits
  4. Improve the consistency of alcohol and pregnancy advice in existing clinical support tools
  5. Increase the uptake into practice of tools that embed alcohol screening early in all pregnancies

4. Increase access to equitable and culturally competent sexual and reproductive health care

  1. Implement the Sexual and Reproductive Health Action Plan for 2016–2026

5. Increase access to support and specialist services for women with alcohol and drug issues

  1. Increase support for pregnant and postpartum women experiencing AOD issues
  2. Work with AOD workforce centres to monitor the implementation of the Supporting Parents, Healthy Children guidelines and ensure that women of childbearing age coming into contact with AOD services are routinely asked about the possibility of pregnancy and connected with maternity and sexual and reproductive health services
  3. Implement and evaluate an intensive wraparound service for pregnant women with AOD issues and complex needs in three areas

6. Enhance the ability of frontline professionals to recognize and respond effectively and compassionately to people with FASD and other neurodevelopmental impairments

  1. Conduct a stocktake and gap analysis of current frontline and allied health workforce competencies for preventing, identifying and responding to FASD
  2. Develop generic modules (eg, a module on working with people with neurodevelopmental impairments and alcohol and pregnancy) for use in training and resources for a range of professionals
  3. Test the ability of the B4 School Check / WCTO screens to identify children with FASD and other neurodevelopmental impairments
  4. Develop a resource for teachers, to improve their knowledge and practice regarding FASD
  5. Develop guidance for people working in the youth justice system, to increase their awareness of and ability to respond effectively to people with FASD and other neurodevelopmental impairments

7. Improve the capability of clinicians to diagnose FASD

  1. Conduct a stocktake and gap analysis of current clinical workforce competencies for formally assessing, diagnosing and managing FASD
  2. Develop and test a clinical pathway for FASD / suspected FASD, including protocols for collecting standardised data
  3. Develop and test a minimum assessment protocol for FASD
  4. Test the accuracy and usability of facial screening software for FASD in a New Zealand cohort
  5. Work with professional colleges to support the implementation of consistent diagnostic guidelines for FASD in New Zealand, and embed them into core training

8. Improve cross-sector collaboration and capacity to provide effective assessments for people showing signs of significant neurodevelopmental impairment

  1. Undertake policy and co-design work on the make-up and mandate of an appropriate multidisciplinary assessment team for FASD, the resourcing it will require and its ideal location/s
  2. Place a greater emphasis on neurodevelopmental need in the review of Child Development Services

9. Develop a coordinated, consistent, accessible and appropriately resourced pathway for supporting affected people and their families

  1. Undertake a stocktake and gap analysis of FASD interventions, services and supports
  2. Undertake social investment analysis and co-design work to develop pathways and target investment for multiagency support for people affected by FASD across the life course
  3. Apply a neurodisabilities lens to the Cross-agency Conduct Problems project
  4. Focus on neurodevelopmental need within the Special Education Update

10. Conduct research into the incidence of FASD and other neurodevelopmental impairments in a New Zealand cohort

  1. Work with the clinical reference group to develop research, screening and assessment protocols
  2. Carry out screening and assessment with the Growing Up in New Zealand cohort
  3. Develop and test a basic support package
  4. Analyse information from the study to investigate:

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