Voluntary Home Visiting Yields Strong Returns for Children, Families and the Nation
Strengthening investments in home visiting can help improve public safety, build the future workforce, and bolster national security
Giving all children a strong and healthy start is one of the best ways to create flourishing adults who make positive contributions to the nation. Unfortunately, not all families have the resources or capacity needed to give their children a strong foundation without extra support. This is particularly true for families that face difficult circumstances—such as poverty, unemployment, or mental health challenges—and those who have few positive parenting role models to look to for guidance.
High-quality, voluntary home visiting programs provide vital support for vulnerable families. These programs assess needs, provide education, and coordinate services from pregnancy into the early years of a child’s life, embracing the rationale that early investments reduce costly, future problems. Through consistent engagement with trained professionals, in the home or via virtual visits, mothers and fathers receive guidance, preparation, tools, and gain access to community services needed to effectively stimulate healthy development in their children. This training also helps them avoid harmful parenting practices, such as child maltreatment, that can lead to long-term developmental issues.
The benefits of home visiting extend well beyond the family. These programs may improve public safety by preventing children’s future involvement in crime, promote school readiness and academic achievement, and help reduce substance misuse. They can also strengthen the economy by fostering families’ economic independence and helping children become productive adults. Further, home visiting programs have implications for national security, through their impact on obesity, one of the major medical disqualifiers for military service.
Despite these myriad benefits, the need for home visiting is greater than the capacity to serve. Nationwide, there are approximately 3.4 million highest-priority families that could benefit from home visiting, but only about two percent received services through the federally-funded Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. When adding state and locally-funded efforts, still only nine percent of highest-priority families received services.
To expand the positive impact of home visiting on vulnerable families, these programs need increased funding (both overall and targeted to Native communities), flexible service delivery methods, and greater investments in the home visiting workforce. Providing a significant, sustained increase to MIECHV program funding—to at least double over five years—would dramatically increase the number of families served across the nation.
State Voluntary Home Visiting Factsheets: