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May 2013Vol. 14, No. 4Evaluating Home Visiting Programs

The Affordable Care Act increased investments in Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation programs, making evaluating program effectiveness more important than ever. A new publication presents the results of an evaluation of a home visiting program in Pennsylvania, as well as a discussion of the challenges inherent in designing and conducting reliable evaluation studies. In Evaluation of Maternal and Child Home Visitation Programs: Lessons From Pennsylvania, author Meredith Matone and other researchers at the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia discuss their experiences in conducting an evaluation of the Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program.

The Pennsylvania NFP program includes 24 agencies, operating in 40 of the State's 67 counties, that serve a racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse client base. Nurses visit mothers in their homes during pregnancy and for up to 2 years postpartum and provide parent education using a standardized curriculum. The PolicyLab evaluation compared 6,000 NFP clients to 17,000 first-time mothers who were economically and demographically similar but who had not enrolled in NFP. The study indicated that over time, NFP mothers showed slightly better outcomes in the areas of pregnancy spacing, prenatal smoking cessation, and child injuries in the first 2 years of life.

The paper also discusses the challenges of evaluating real-life programs and compares the strengths and pitfalls of different evaluation methodologies to inform evaluation efforts in other States. Four key program evaluation concepts are also presented.

Evaluation of Maternal and Child Home Visitation Programs: Lessons From Pennsylvania is available on the PolicyLab website: (1,219 KB)