What Works for Home Visiting Programs: Lessons from Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Interventions

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Following rigorous evaluations of 66 home visitation programs, researchers found that less than half positively affected their communities, this fact sheet says.

All programs were evaluated and categorized based on their impacts in 10 “outcome areas”: physical health and development, cognitive development, externalizing behavior, social skills, mental health, reproductive health, substance use, child maltreatment, parent-child relationships and parenting skills. Only 32 of the 66 were placed in a category describing programs with “positive or significant” impacts on at least one of the 10 items.

The study found that there is no one setting or method that works across age groups. Rather, to be successful, visitation programs must take separate approaches for early childhood, preschool-age, middle childhood and adolescent programs.

Programs that serve the younger groups – preschool-aged and early childhood – required more intense approaches. The study found that programs that involved four or more visits per month were most effective, compared with long-term programs with one or fewer visits per month. The latter did not yield positive results in any of the categories. Using trained non-professionals as visitors proved to be an effective technique in about half of the programs for each age level, the report says.

Examples of several home visitation programs can be found here.

Free, 33 pages. www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2010_7_1_FS_WWHomeVisitpdf.pdf.