February 2008Vol. 9, No. 1Healthy Families America: Positive Impacts of Home Visiting
For 15 years, Healthy Families America (HFA) programs around the country have promoted positive parenting and the prevention of child maltreatment through home visits to new and expectant parents who may be at risk for child abuse. The HFA initiative has grown to include programs in more than 450 communities. While there is a great deal of flexibility in implementation, all HFA programs adhere to a series of critical elements involving service initiation, service content, and staff characteristics.
A recent article explored the effectiveness of HFA programs by reviewing 33 evaluations of HFA sites, including 15 studies with comparison groups. Despite the diversity of the sites and the variability in implementation, program quality, and family risk level, overall findings were positive for the impact of the home visiting program. HFA sites showed improvements in parenting attitudes, the home environment, birth outcomes, maternal depression, and in many cases, child maltreatment rates. Data from two large-scale programs illustrated the benefits of communitywide and statewide HFA programs.
"Healthy Families America Effectiveness: A Comprehensive Review of Outcomes," by Kathryn Harding, Joseph Galano, Joanne Martin, Lee Huntington, and Cynthia Schellenbach, was published in the Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, Volume 34, and is available from Haworth Press:
- For more information about Healthy Families America, including access to the new self-assessment tool, visit:
- Children's Bureau Express wrote about the Healthy Families New York site, which was recognized by RAND as a "Promising Program That Works," in "Recognition for Healthy Families New York" (April 2006).
- The Children's Bureau recently awarded 5-year grants to three agencies to provide nurse home visitation to low-income first-time mothers at risk for child abuse and neglect. The Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Toppenish, WA, the Nurses for Newborns Foundation in St. Louis, MO, and the Spokane Regional Health District in Spokane, WA, will implement nurse home visitation in combination with healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood curricula.