Home visiting programs are voluntary, family-focused services offered to expectant parents and families with new babies and young children to support the physical, social, and emotional health of the child. Either before their child’s birth or in their child’s first few years of life, families are voluntarily matched with trained professionals. Trained professionals visit families in their homes or community settings to provide information and support related to children’s healthy development, support parent-child relationship, and provide information on importance of early learning and connections to other information, services and supports in the community. The benefits of home visiting span more than one generation. Browse our pages below to learn about the types of Home Visiting programs that DEL supports and our partners in delivering these services.
Why Home Visiting
Home visiting is a powerful investment and a proven strategy for strengthening families. Evidence shows that when families receive home-based support, children are better prepared for school, abuse and neglect are less likely and parent-child bonds are stronger. Washington State has increasingly prioritized home visiting programs in order to achieve these important ends among our state’s most vulnerable children and families. Washington’s home visiting programs integrate the following key elements in their implementation in order to preserve high quality service delivery and ensure the positive outcomes demonstrated in research: Participation in home visiting is completely voluntary. Services are offered in communities where families have the greatest needs – including high levels of poverty, homelessness, low education, teen parenting, mental illness, and domestic violence. In order to maintain high quality services, Washington invests in evidence-based and promising programs – these are programs that have demonstrated through research and evaluation to support families, improve child outcomes, and reduce child abuse and neglect. To achieve these outcomes, funded programs are expected to maintain model fidelity—meaning their program delivery is modeled after the key elements shown through research to be effective. One important program element is the use of qualified, well-trained home visiting staff who carry manageable caseloads and receive strong supervision. Each program works to reach out and engage families where families are, using culturally relevant and appealing outreach methods. All programs assess the needs and strengths of each individual family, screening for specific issues and needs early in the relationship to create well-designed and customized service plans. Home visitors also make referrals for families to community services, further building the network or resource support for each family to increase the likelihood of success. Meanwhile, programs are important partners in building a community system of support for all families, with strong linkages between home visiting services to health, education, workforce, and other programs that serve families and young children. In other words, programs are intentional, maintaining high quality and using proven strategies to make sure enrolled families and children are successful both in program outcomes and life outcomes.