Evidence-based home visiting programs recognize parents are children’s first teachers, but sometimes even parents and others raising children look for help. Far too many of Pennsylvania’s youngest children live in poverty and experience poor education and health outcomes. Voluntary home visiting programs help parents and others raising children with the supports necessary to improve the health, safety, literacy and economic self-sufficiency of the family. During home visits, nurses or other trained professionals visit with women, families and children – some as early as pregnancy to promote positive birth outcomes – to provide parent education and support, ultimately promoting child health, well-being, learning and development.
In 2019, six evidence-based home visiting models were operating in Pennsylvania using public (state and/or federal) and private funds to support their programs. Each model has distinct characteristics and meets families’ unique needs in different ways:
Early Head Start (EHS) – Nurtures healthy attachments for low-income families parenting infants and toddlers, and for pregnant women and their families, through intensive comprehensive child development and family support services.
Family Check-Up (FCU) – Supports strategies to better engage parents and parent-centered intervention for reducing problem behaviors in children from toddlers through adolescence.
Healthy Families America (HFA) – Strengthens families by promoting positive parenting, enhancing child health and development, and preventing child abuse and neglect.
Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) – Pairs first-time, low-income pregnant women with nurses to improve pregnancy/birth outcomes, child health and development, and family economic self-sufficiency.
Parents as Teachers (PAT) – Builds the capacity of parents to understand and support optimal healthy child development, develop effective parenting practices that strengthen the family foundation, and promotes school readiness.
SafeCare Augmented® – Aims to prevent and address factors associated with child abuse and neglect through motivational interviewing and additional training to identify and respond to imminent child maltreatment and risk factors.
See What People are Saying About Home Visiting
”Without evidence-based home visiting, I would not be where I am today. The Family Support Center did more than help me get back on my feet; they gave me hope. “
Father who benefited from home visiting services with Family Check-Up
”As we know, a critical period of time in a child’s life where a significant impact (negative or positive) can be made on their development is birth through age 3. We also know that this age group (in fact up to age 5) is one of, if not, the most vulnerable population in society. Here in Montgomery County, our Office of Children and Youth continues to place tremendous focus on family engagement efforts to ensure that children are being adequately cared for by family in their homes and to avoid foster care placement whenever possible. That means embracing supportive programming that educates at-risk families on ways to avoid child abuse and neglect. It’s important to provide this type of support so all children in our county can live safe, happy and productive lives.“
Nadine Miller, Deputy Administrator, Resource Division, Office of Children and Youth, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
”A mother’s physical, emotional and mental health prior to pregnancy and birth play a crucial role in determining the outcome of a pregnancy and that child’s subsequent development. For young mothers, evidence-based home visiting can help ensure they get the proper care they need. In home visits, nurses and other trained professionals engage with a pregnant woman or mother, as well as her partner and other family members, educating them on the importance of regular well-child visits and helping parents to understand the important role that they themselves play in their child’s development.“
Dr. Robert Cicco, Pittsburgh Neonatologist, Allegheny County Medical Society President and the former President of the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
”Parents are a child's forever teacher. And, to do well, you need to be well.“
Susan Evans, Early Head Start
”From identifying postpartum depression to helping deal with substance use disorders, these programs empower families to make proactive, positive choices that prove beneficial to healthy development. The good news is that evidence-based home visiting programs can positively impact the lives of these young families, building confidence and imparting them with the tools necessary to overcome many challenges so they can successfully raise their children.“
Julie Mansfield, MSN, RN, manager with Nurse-Family Partnership
”As a working parent with young children, the enormous responsibility, mental load, and physical exhaustion are very real. While I am fortunate to have a support network, I am also aware that many families face additional challenges such as poverty, mental health diagnoses, and substance abuse. Evidenced-based home visiting provides an opportunity for parents to learn from a trained and knowledgeable family coach who can support the health and well-being of the caregiver and child. The research is clear that investing in families during this critical time of early childhood reaps returns for future generations.“
Lissa Geiger Shulman, Public Policy Director, Trying Together
”As law enforcement officials, my colleagues and I are certainly tough on crime, but we also know that we can’t arrest and prosecute our way out of the crime problem. It is important for us to be proactive and help connect at-risk families and their children with proven supports. Every day law enforcement officials see firsthand the consequences of inadequate parenting and home lives. We are certainly not alone in believing that strong families are the foundation of our communities, and children from strong families have a greater chance of being healthy, productive and law-abiding citizens. Parents are, of course, their children’s primary teachers and influence. That’s why evidence-based home visiting programs are so vital.
Angela Mattis, Montour County District Attorney
”Children don't arrive with instruction manuals, but parents can learn to be confident in their child rearing practices with the support of family, friends and community services. Pennsylvania's 55 Parents as Teachers (PAT) home visiting programs work closely with families to build trusting relationships that address critical parenting behaviors and promote protective factors that support optimal child development. Many PAT families are young parents, face poverty and/or have other challenges that the certified parent educators help them navigate. Parents as Teachers, a family-centered, results-driven approach is a cost-effective solution for families in Pennsylvania.“
Karen Shanoski, M.Mgt. Partnerships Project Manager PA Parents as Teachers State Office
Does Home Visiting Work?
Evidence-based home visiting is a research-proven tool to support the development and safety of our most vulnerable children and their families.
The term “evidence-based” refers to home visiting models whose services are proven effective by research with evidence that supports a child’s healthy development. Information related to each home visiting model’s evidence has been evaluated and documented within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) review at http://homvee.acf.hhs.gov.
Voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs can lead to improved family health, help establish early literacy habits, support families in working toward economic security, and introduce positive parenting practices that can reduce child abuse and neglect. Not only do evidence-based home visiting programs benefit the families and communities they serve, but they are also a smart public investment. For example, RAND found Nurse-Family Partnership returns as much as $5.70 for every tax dollar spent from reduced spending for health care and other human services when serving high-risk populations.
What is Childhood Begins at Home?
Childhood Begins at Home is a statewide campaign to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting and support public investments in the programs. Since the 2017-18 state budget, we have won funding increases totaling $16.5 million.
Governing Body Members:
Carson Valley Children’s Aid
Children’s Advocacy of Lawrence County
Columbia County Family Center
Family First Health
Greater Nanticoke Area Family Center
Mabel Morris family Home Visit Program
Maternal Family and Health Services
Mission Readiness/Ready Nation
National Association of Social Workers Pennsylvania Chapter
National Nurse-Led Care Consortium, a PHMC affiliate
PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
PA Family Support Alliance
Parent-Child Home Program
Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children
People’s Emergency Center
Philadelphia Nurse family Partnership
Prevent Child Abuse PA
Public Citizens for Children and Youth
The Foundation for Delaware County
Union City Family Support Center
United Way of Carlisle & Cumberland County
United Way of Lancaster County
United Way of Pennsylvania
UPMC Home Care Management Services dba Nursing Agency Community