Family Home Visiting Program
Families are central to the healthy physical, social and emotional development of infants and young children. However, many Minnesota families face challenges that impact the development of their children during the critical early years of life. Stressors such as poverty and adverse experiences disproportionately affect children and families in economically, socially and environmentally disadvantaged communities. Frequent exposure to these stressors and adverse experiences lead to the likelihood of individuals facing health disparities later in life.
Family home visiting (FHV) is a voluntary, home-based service ideally delivered prenatally through the early years of a child's life. It provides social, emotional, health-related and parenting support and information to families, and links them to appropriate resources. By participating in home visiting, some examples of services a family may receive are:
- Connections/referrals for pregnant women to prenatal care;
- Early support to parents in their role as a child’s first teacher;
- Help in creating a safe and healthy environment for a young child to thrive in; and
- Parenting skills and support that decrease the risk of child abuse.
Depending on the goals identified by a family and based on developmental and risk assessments, a family may work with a home visitor from the prenatal period through a child’s third birthday. Some programs serve families with children up to age five years. Through consistent and planned home visits, parents and caregivers learn how to improve their family's health and provide better opportunities for their children.
Who We Serve
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) FHV Section offers consultation, technical assistance, professional development, data collection, evaluation, continuous quality improvement (CQI) and grants management to local public health and tribal health programs providing home visiting services to families across the state. The MDH FHV Section convenes the Family Home Visiting Advisory Group to enable communication between the MDH FHV Section, local public health departments, tribal governments, other early childhood partners, and to facilitate effective implementation of FHV programming through local and state guidance and support. For further information about the FHV Advisory Group contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Benefits of Home Visiting
Research in early brain development indicates that experiences in the first few years of a child's life are the most critical and can have far-reaching consequences. FHV services that are grounded in empirically based research and target those most at risk have been shown to successfully mitigate adverse childhood experiences and change the life trajectory of a child and her/his family. FHV is an effective upstream intervention that serves as a key link to other early childhood interventions and community supports, such as health care, mental health, early intervention, early care and education, and other services that promote healthy child development and collectively make a difference in the lives of children and their families.
The provision of services to pregnant and parenting teens is a priority for many FHV programs, given strong evidence of poor outcomes for these individuals and their families. Such outcomes include higher rates of prematurity, low birthweight, developmental delays, lower high-school graduation rates, and an increased risk of lifelong, intergenerational poverty.
Notable benefits to Minnesota families who have received early intervention through home visiting services include:
- Improved maternal and newborn health;
- Reduction of child injuries, abuse, neglect and/or maltreatment;
- Improvements in school readiness and parent-child relationships;
- Reduction of domestic violence; and
- Economic self-sufficiency of families.
Enrolling in an FHV program can make a positive difference for children and their families. The following are some examples of real-life experiences with FHV programs in Minnesota. Family Home Visiting interviews of Parent (videos)
- A teen mom who was expecting her first child was sleeping on the couch in a two bedroom trailer with her mom, dad, brother and two nieces when she enrolled in FHV. The father of her baby was in jail. She was not in school and had only completed the 10th grade. Since becoming an FHV client, she has returned to school, found her own housing and has been accepted into a program that will help pay for her rent while she attends school.
- A young mom met her home visitor when she was 16 and pregnant. A key component of home visiting is assessing the needs and goals of each family and connecting them to resources. The mom notes that her home visitor "helped me with all of the testing I needed while I was pregnant. With getting to my doctor's appointment, diapers, then there was like a breastmilk resource because I breastfed. It was like resources for everything. Everything I needed...she had it."
Her home visitor reflects, "It was really remarkable to start working with her and to see her in school and to see her progress in her pregnancy. Just seeing her journey through that and to grow in confidence as a parent, and to also figure out childcare and to continue her schooling even though that can be hard with a young one at home, but she did it. It's really been remarkable, she's an incredible young woman and has really has accomplished so much over these last few years."
By working with her home visitor, the client was able to build her own parenting skills and confidence, "She kind of put me in a way so I got the hang of it, and after I got the hang of it I could do it on my own so it was like, I know how this goes, I got this now."
- Unstable housing and attendance at school were challenging for a 17 year old mom expecting her first baby. Since enrolling in FHV, she has found stable housing, is attending classes for her GED and is exclusively breastfeeding her 3 1/2 month old son.
Family Home Visiting Program Structure and Models
FHV program structure varies across the state depending on the demographics of the community served, the type of home visiting provided (i.e. short-term or long-term) and whether or not the program is using an evidence-based service model. Currently, MDH provides consultation and/or financial support for the implementation of six evidence-based home visiting models in the state: Family Spirit, Healthy Families America, Parents as Teachers, Early Head Start, Family Connects and Nurse-Family Partnership. (See the Information for Home Visitors and Supervisors webpage for more information on these models.)
How Family Home Visiting is Funded
FHV services in Minnesota are supported by a number of funding streams including state, federal and local resources. At the state level, MDH oversees and distributes funding for home visiting services provided under Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding, the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, Minnesota Evidence-based Home visiting, and Minnesota's Nurse-Family Partnership legislation. Funding administered by MDH is granted to Community Health Boards, Tribal Governments, and non-profits. Other funding streams for FHV in Minnesota include local tax levies and Medical Assistance reimbursement. For more information go to the Funding and Grants Management web page.