Report | April 10, 2019

Parenting Works in Oregon

The public safety and health benefits of home visiting

The birth of a child presents new opportunities and challenges for families. The challenges are often exacerbated for families who face difficult circumstances ― such as poverty, unemployment, or single parenthood ― and those who have few positive parenting role models to look to for guidance. However, all families can benefit from the individualized care that home visiting programs provide.

In Oregon, there are nearly 140,000 children under the age of three. Preventing abuse and neglect among young children is especially important; in 2017, 26 percent of substantiated victims of neglect or abuse were under three years old. Of those cases, 47 percent were younger than one year. Further, it is estimated that 40 percent of young children in Oregon (birth through kindergarten-age) will face physical or socioeconomic issues that put their healthy development at risk.

While home visiting can help reduce these risks, only about 20 percent of eligible Oregon families are receiving home visiting services because of resource constraints and limited capacity. During FY2016-17, Healthy Families Oregon provided care for only 16 percent of all births; there were over 580 families who were screened and found eligible for the program but could not receive services because capacity had been reached. This illustrates the significant unmet need among families who could benefit from increased voluntary home visiting services across the state.

This report discusses how home visiting can help children grow up healthy and reduce child abuse and neglect.

Voluntary home visiting programs are based on a simple premise: parenting works. By coaching parents at a pivotal point in their lives, home visitors help parents provide children with a strong and stable upbringing and become self-sufficient. As a result, high-quality programs have benefits ranging from public savings and reductions in health care costs to less child abuse and neglect and crime reduction. Oregon should invest in a continuum of home visiting services, to include universal home visiting. By increasing these services, more Oregon children will be ready for school, and will have the chance to grow up to be healthy and productive adults.


  1. Oregon