Home Visiting: A Service Strategy to Reduce Poverty and Mitigate its Consequences Link copied to clipboard

April 2016


Cynthia S. Minkovitz, Kay M. G. O'Neill, and Anne K. Duggan


Home visiting programs are increasingly recognized as an important part of the early childhood system of care in the United States. The objectives of this report are to review the rationale for home visiting; characterize the Federal Home Visiting Program; highlight the evidence of home visiting effectiveness, particularly for low income families; identify opportunities to promote coordination between medical homes and home visiting programs; and explain the critical role of research, evaluation, and quality improvement to strengthen home visiting effectiveness. Home visiting programs offer voluntary home-based services and other supports to meet the needs of vulnerable pregnant women and young families. Home visiting intends to address poverty in 2 ways. First, it promotes economic self-sufficiency directly by building parents’ knowledge, skills, and motivation related to employment opportunities and by linking families with community services such as adult education and job training. Second, it mitigates the effects of poverty through direct service and community linkages to enhance parents’ capacity for positive parenting and for their own health and family functioning. Home visiting has shown effectiveness in multiple domains, including family economic self-sufficiency, birth outcomes, maternal health, child health and development, and positive parenting practices. Authorized as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and reauthorized in 2015, the Federal Home Visiting Program invests an unprecedented $1.9 billion in the form of grants to states to expand home visiting programs and support rigorous research. As part of the early childhood system of services, home visiting programs must coordinate with other community services and supports. Programs will be most effective when resources are used efficiently, duplication of services is avoided, and alignment and reinforcement of other providers’ messages are achieved. The Federal Home Visiting Program has established 4 mechanisms of research, evaluation, and quality improvement to enhance home visiting implementation and effectiveness.

Access Type: Open Access

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