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Home > Advocacy > CWLA 2008 Children's Legislative Agenda > Home Visiting Programs


CWLA 2008 Children's Legislative Agenda

Home Visiting Programs

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  • Cosponsor and pass the Education Begins at Home Act. (S.667 and HR2343)


Home visitation programs refer to model programs that provide in-home visits to targeted vulnerable or new families. Home visitation programs-either stand-alone programs or center-based programs-serve at least 400,000 children annually between ages 0 and 5. 1 Eligible families may receive services as early as the prenatal stage. Because a child's early years are the most critical for optimal development and provide a foundation for success in school and life, home visiting can make a lifetime of difference. 2 Nurses, professionals, or other trained community members conduct home visits on a weekly, bimonthly, or monthly basis. Program goals include an increase in positive parenting practices, an improvement in the health of the entire family, an increase in the family's ability to be self-sufficient, and enhanced school readiness for the children.

Quality early childhood home visitation programs lead to many positive outcomes for children and families, including a reduction in child maltreatment. Annual data indicates that 40% of the nearly 900,000 children who have been substantiated as abused and neglected, but not removed from the home, never receive follow-up services. 3 More widely available and implemented home visitation could help address this drastic shortcoming.

Home visitation services stabilize at-risk families by significantly affecting factors directly linked to future abuse and neglect. Research shows that families who receive at least 15 home visits have less perceived stress and maternal depression, while also expressing higher levels of paternal competence. 4 Home visitation programs may also reduce the disproportionality or overrepresentation of children and families of color, while improving outcomes for these families.
Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) first began promoting home visiting when, as Missouri's governor, he signed the Early Childhood Education Act of 1984. This legislation helped expand the Parents as Teachers (PAT) programs in all state school districts. As the PAT model spread, it was later included in the reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

PAT joins several other model programs used by states across the country. States have decided to follow these different models depending on local needs and preferences. Other home visitation programs include Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), Healthy Families America, Early Head Start, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), and the Parent-Child Home Program.

In September 2006, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Education Reform of the Committee on Education and Workforce held the first hearing on this legislation, Perspectives on Early Childhood Home Visitation Programs. The hearing was a bipartisan effort to highlight the costeffectiveness and positive long-term social impact of home visiting programs.


Senator Bond introduced home visiting legislation-the Education Begins at Home Act (S. 667)-in the 108th, 109th, and again in the current 110th Congress. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives in the 109th Congress, and again in the 110th Congress (H.R. 2343). Both bills have bipartisan support. Under the legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services would collaborate with the Department of Education to make grants available to all 50 states over a three-year period, authorizing $400 million for states to implement home visiting pro- grams. An additional $50 million would be authorized over a three-year period for local partnerships that create or implement home visiting programs targeted to Englishlanguage learning families. Finally, an additional $50 million would be targeted to reach military families through the Department of Defense. The legislation also seeks to strengthen the home visitation components of the Early Head Start program.

Under the legislation, each governor would designate a lead state agency to oversee and implement the state program. The states can use their grants to supplement-but not replace-current state funding. The legislation does not dictate which, or how many, home visiting models may be used. If a state currently lacks a home visitation program, the funds can be used to develop a program. A state's grant funding award would be based on the number of children age 5 and younger living in the state. In the Senate bill, no state would receive more than $20 million a year. Applying states would submit a plan outlining their efforts to collaborate and coordinate among existing and new programs.

Nevertheless, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) FY 2008 funding for discretionary grants designated an additional $10 million for home visitation programs. According to the funding agreement, this additional funding will support "a range of home visitation program that have met high evidentiary standards."

Key Facts

  • In 2005, more than 3 million cases of child abuse and neglect were reported and referred for investigation to state and local child protective service agencies because family members, professionals, or other citizens were concerned about their safety and well-being. After follow-up assessments, officials substantiated 899,000 of these cases. 5

  • Of the 899,000 children determined to be abused or neglected, 60% (542,996) received follow-up services. In other words, 40% of child victims did not receive follow-up services. 6

  • Of the estimated 1,460 child deaths in 2005, 76.6% of child victims were younger than age 4. Another 13.4% were between the ages of 4 and 7. 7

  • Of the perpetrators of child maltreatment, 76.6% were parents. 8

  • A study of the Missouri-based PAT home visiting program examined the children enrolled in the program and found that by age 3, they were significantly more advanced in language, problem-solving, and intellectual and social abilities than children in comparable groups. 9

  • A study of the Nurse-Family Partnership showed a 79% reduction in child maltreatment among at-risk families compared to other families in a control group. That same study also indicated a number of other benefits in the areas of health, employment, and behavior. 10

  • Healthy Families America exists in more than 450 communities; Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters is in 167 sites in 26 states; the Parent-Child Home Program has 137 sites nationally and 10 sites internationally; Early Head Start serves more than 62,000 children in 7,000 sites; and Parents as Teachers (PAT) is located in all 50 states and serves more than 400,000 children. 11

  • Research shows that participating children have improved rates of early literacy, language development, problem-solving, and social awareness. These children also demonstrate higher rates of school attendance and scores on achievement and standardized tests. 12

  • Studies show that families who receive home visiting are more likely to have health insurance, seek prenatal and wellness care, and have their children immunized. 13

  • Research has shown that by reducing abuse and neglect, home visitation programs can reduce juvenile delinquency and ultimately save taxpayers almost $53 billion annually. 14


  1. Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. (2006). Challenges to building and sustaining effective home visitation programs: Lessons learned from states. . Chicago, IL: Author. back
  2. Daro, D., Howard, E., Tobin, J., & Hardin, A. (2005). Welcome home and early start: An assessment of program quality and outcomes. Available online. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. back
  3. Administration on Children Youth and Families. (2007). Child maltreatment 2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. back
  4. Daro, D., Howard, E., Tobin, J., & Hardin, A. (2005). Welcome home and early start: an assessment of program quality and outcomes. Available online. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. back
  5. Administration on Children Youth and Families. (2007). Child maltreatment 2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. back
  6. Ibid. back
  7. Ibid. back
  8. Ibid. back
  9. Pfannenstiel, J., & Setlzer, D. (1985). Evaluation report: New parents as teachers project. Overland Park, KS: Research and Training Associates. back
  10. Nurse-Family Partnership. (2005) Factsheet. Available online. Denver, CO: Author. back
  11. Prevent Child Abuse America. (2006). Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs. Chicago, IL: Author. back
  12. Administration for Children and Families. (2003). Research to practice: Early Head Start home-based services. Washington, DC: Author. back
  13. Berkenes, J.P. (2001). HOPES healthy families Iowa FY 2001 services report. Great Falls, VA: Klagholz & Associates. back
  14. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (2003). New hope for preventing child abuse and neglect: Proven solution to save lives and to prevent future crime. Washington, DC: Author. back

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