High-quality home visiting services to infants and young children can improve family relationships, advance school readiness, reduce child maltreatment, improve maternal-infant health outcomes, and increase family economic self-sufficiency. Home visiting refers to a strategy in which a professional or paraprofessional renders services in a community or private home setting.
For over 150 years in the U.S., public health nurses, social workers and community advocates have visited homes of marginalized families, particularly in impoverished and immigrant communities, to relieve suffering related to poverty and social isolation, to make living environments healthier and to prepare children for a more successful life. Home visiting is a valuable strategy that can buffer the effects of poverty and adverse early childhood experiences that influence lifelong health.
An updated American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement in the September 2017 Pediatrics, "Early Childhood Home Visiting" (published online Aug. 28) divides early home visiting recommendations into three levels: community pediatricians, large health systems, and researchers.
Home visiting may be most effective when integrated with the family-centered medical home in a community-based comprehensive system of care for families with young children.
The AAP supports unwavering federal funding of state home visiting initiatives, expansion of evidence-based programs, and robust, coordinated national evaluation designed to confirm best practices and cost efficiency.