Home visiting: Improving outcomes for children

What is home visiting? Home visiting is a valuable resource from trusted, knowledgeable community members for young families and it’s free!

Home visiting is a prevention strategy to support pregnant moms and new parents to promote infant and child health. Part of this prevention involves fostering educational development and school readiness. These tactics and resources reduce stress in the home and contribute to a healthy atmosphere. Home visiting programs offer support to parents as they deal with the tricky parts of raising a child. Any parent with older children can tell you, there is always a time when a mom or dad could use a little help. Participation is voluntary and families may choose to opt-out whenever they want.

Home visitors may be nurses, social workers or child development specialists. They focus on linking pregnant women with prenatal care, promoting strong parent-child attachment and coaching parents on learning activities that foster child development. Home visiting supports a parent’s role as his or her child’s first teacher. High school graduation rates increase for the parents who need to continue their education. Many parents even decide to further their education. It is also important to know that home visiting also lets parents know they can be a fantastic parent by doing very simple things for their baby’s brain like touching, singing, reading and playing with their child.

Research shows children’s early experiences lays the foundation for brain development which impacts social, cognitive and emotional competence. This translates to long-term benefits, such as better physical and mental health, better grades and higher incomes throughout the lifetime of the child. Home visiting can improve outcomes for children and families, particularly those that face the challenges of teen or single parenthood, maternal depression and lack of social and financial supports. Many families who have deep connections to the community and plenty of meaningful adult relationships also find value and gratitude for their home visitors. The program is meant to draw on the strengths of a parent and the family unit.

Improved birth outcomes such as decreased pre-term births and low birth weight babies are two more benefits seen from early childhood intervention programs such as home visiting. These and other positive effects are due to improved parent-child bonding, increased baby brain development and amplified opportunities and connections. If what is written has not yet convinced you of the value of home visiting then take it from those who have been there. Most parents report that home visiting makes parenting less stressful and more enjoyable. That sounds like an expert opinion to me.

Blog written by Dar Lundquist, RN with Lovelace Labor of Love. Edits by Catherine Roth, CCHW with Lovelace Labor of Love.