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May 2017Vol. 18, No. 3Benefits of Home Visit Programs

A new podcast explores a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that shows how home visit programs that include videotaped parent-child interactions can improve the parent-child relationship and reduce child maltreatment and removals from the home. The podcast discusses a recent article, "Promoting First Relationships: Randomized Trial of a 10-Week Home Visiting Program for Families Referred to Child Protective Services of Home-Visit Program in Child Maltreatment Cases Strengthens Parent-Child Interaction," which appeared in the November 2016 issue of Child Maltreatment ( The article features a study that was conducted over a 3-year period (between 2011 and 2014). It followed 247 families with children between 10 months and 2 years of age who were involved in an investigation by child protective services for recent allegations of maltreatment. The study randomly assigned families to either a telephone-based intervention service—including three 30-minute sessions and a packet of parent resource materials—or a home visiting program with 1-hour visits over a 10-week period.

The research was specifically designed to review the Promoting First Relationships home visiting model, which helps primary caregivers become more aware of a child's social and emotional cues and increases parental sensitivity, competence, and insight over time. The intervention involves videotaping a parent's or primary caregiver's interactions with an infant or young child, which a training specialist then reviews with the parent to help make the parent become more aware of how they are responding to their child.

Parents or caregivers participating in the 10-week home-based intervention were found to score higher than those receiving the telephone-based intervention on measurements of parental sensitivity and engagement, and the home-based intervention group experienced approximately less than half the number of home removals.

The podcast features Dr. Valerie Maholmes, chief of the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Dr. Monica Oxford, director of the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health at the University of Washington Department of Family and Child Nursing. It is available on the NIH/ NICHD website at