What is Home Visiting?

Evidence-based home visiting programs recognize that parents are children’s first teachers, but sometimes, parents and others who raise 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 maternal and child health, develop school readiness, promote economic self-sufficiency, reduce abuse and neglect, and address substance use disorders. During home visits, nurses and other 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 2021, 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 experiences in different ways. 

Early Head Start—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. Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in developing school readiness and promoting economic self-sufficiency. Learn more.

Family Check-Up®—Supports strategies to better engage parents and parent-centered intervention for reducing problem behaviors in children from toddlers through adolescence. Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in addressing substance use disorders and improving child mental health. Learn more. 

Healthy Families America—Strengthens families by promoting positive parenting, enhancing child health and development, and preventing child abuse and neglect. Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in reducing child abuse and neglect and improving maternal and child health. Learn more. 

Nurse-Family Partnership—Pairs first-time, low-income pregnant women with nurses to improve pregnancy/birth outcomes, child health and development, and family economic self-sufficiency. Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in improving maternal and child health and promoting economic self-sufficiency. Learn more. 

Parents as Teachers—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. Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in developing school readiness and reducing child abuse and neglect. Learn more. 

SafeCare Augmented®—Uses motivational interviewing and other training to focus on three key outcomes that are universally important for families: creating positive relationships between caregivers and their children, ensuring homes are safe to reduce the risk of child injury, and keeping children as healthy as possible. Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in reducing child abuse and neglect and improving child health. Learn more. 

Does Home Visiting Work?

Yes! 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) at http://homvee.acf.hhs.gov. 

What is Childhood Begins at Home?

An initiative of Early Learning PA, 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 campaign began in 2017, it has won funding increases more than doubling the state investments. This has helped serve many more Pennsylvania families, yet it represents only a fraction of those who could benefit the most. 

Governing Body Members

Allegheny County Family SupportAllies for Children

Pennsylvania Family Center NetworkCouncil for a Strong America - PennsylvaniaMaternity Care Coalition

Nuse-Family PartnershipParents as TeachersPennsylvania Head Start AssociationPennsylvania Partnerships for ChildrenOutreach Center for Community ResourcesTrying Together

See What People are Saying About Home Visiting

”Home visitors going in present potentially one of the few positive role models for people in that kind of environment…and give them the tools that are necessary to make sure that a child is cared for and that they have resources moving forward.“
Drew Welsh, District Attorney, Clarion County
”Positive parenting approaches and nurturing a child’s development in the first several years of life is likely to have sustained benefits as a child moves through adolescence and adulthood. Research supports the use of evidence-based home visiting programs to positively influence the life course of parents and their children.
Joan B. Thode, MD, General Pediatrics, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health
”The Early Head Start program we offer helps to strengthen families by capitalizing on parents’ strengths to helping them understand child development and build their parenting skills.“
Pam Johnson, Executive Director, Jefferson-Clarion Head Start, Inc.
”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
”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