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Guest Post: An Unprecedented Look at Early Childhood Home Visiting

First-time mom Kristi didn’t seem like herself. She felt a lot of ups and downs in the months after giving birth to her daughter Melodie, including frustration when she had a hard time breastfeeding. She also felt isolated in her apartment in Jacksboro, Tennessee, where she and Melodie spent their days while Kristi’s husband took the family car to work.

It wasn’t until Kristi enrolled in the Healthy Families East Tennessee home visiting program that she learned these feelings could be part of something bigger. Cara, the home visitor who traveled to the apartment weekly to help Kristi navigate her role as a new mom, taught Kristi about postpartum depression and what to do if she noticed symptoms.

“It took me awhile to realize that what I was feeling was what she was telling me,” Kristi says of making the connection. “Then I went and I got help.”

This type of pairing between families and trained home visitors is the basis for evidence-based home visiting programs. Across the country, home visiting connects parents-to-be and parents of young children with a designated support person who guides them through the early stages of raising a family. Services are voluntary and tailored to meet the specific needs of families.

The 2017 Home Visiting Yearbook presents, for the first time, the most comprehensive picture available of home visiting on the national and state levels.

Evidence based Home Visiting by county in 2005

Yearbook highlights include:

  • More than a quarter of a million families received evidence-based home visiting services in 2015 over the course of more than 2 million home visits. Visits were provided at no cost to recipients.
  • Through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), the federal government has bolstered evidence-based home visiting since 2010, investing $1.85 billion for services, research, and local infrastructure to develop early childhood systems.
  • Home visiting is now implemented in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 5 territories, and 25 tribal communities. About 40 percent of all counties have at least one local agency offering it.
  • More than 18 million pregnant women and families (including more than 23 million children) could benefit from home visiting.
  • The evidence base for home visiting is strong and growing. Studies of the cost-effectiveness of home visiting show yields of $1.80 to $5.70 for every dollar invested.

Read the full 2017 Home Visiting Yearbook here to explore national and state-level data. Additionally, the NHVRC website includes a reference catalog featuring home visiting research and evaluation conducted outside of the resource center, as well as blog posts and stories about home visiting. We also invite you to follow NHVRC on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by Jill Filene, NHVRC’s Project Director, and Allison Meisch, NHVRC’s Deputy Project Director. In 2015, the Heising-Simons Foundation’s Education program supported James Bell Associates with a $1.97 million grant to support the NHVRC, which collects and analyzes data about the state of the home visiting field.