Increasing Home Visitations for New Parents
Becoming a parent is a time of joy and excitement, but also one of change and uncertainty. Most new parents need help and guidance during this momentous time. Home visitation programs can provide helpful information and assistance to pregnant women and new parents to help babies grow up healthy and safe.
Home visitations can be conducted by nurses, social workers, child development specialists, or other trained professionals. Visits often begin during pregnancy, but can also start when babies are newborn, and visits usually continue until the toddler years. These specialists provide fundamental guidance, but also help link parents to social services, prenatal care, transportation, children’s health insurance, immunizations, early intervention, lead screenings, and other community resources that can help.
Home visitation programs are backed by decades of research that prove their efficacy. These programs have been shown to promote healthy child development and academic success, improve health outcomes for mothers and children, reduce instances of child abuse and neglect, and boost families’ economic self-sufficiency.
Babies Count, a 2018 report from Advocates for Children of New Jersey, lists some positive impacts of home visitation programs in our state, such as:
- 73% of children receive timely developmental screenings
- 68% of families practice safe sleep methods with infants
- 70% of eligible mothers were screened for depression
- 49% of mothers who screened positive received mental health services
- 79% of families report singing and reading to their child every day
A childhood that is safe and nurturing creates good physical and mental health that creates a blueprint for future healthy relationships and well-being. Home visitations provide support during the crucial first three years of life, when young brains are developing most rapidly and building the neural connections that will provide a foundation for children throughout their lives. These essential programs should be fostered and expanded to ensure that all children in New Jersey grow up healthy, happy and strong.
For more information about home visitation programs, see the Zero to Three web site at: https://www.zerotothree.org/search?q=home+visitation, and to learn more about New Jersey’s home visitation programs, go to: https://www.nj.gov/dcf/families/early/visitation/hv_faqs.html