Investing in Prevention: Home Visiting

Jul 30, 2009

By Tiffany Conway

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, signed into law on October 7, 2008, is an incredible step forward on behalf of children and youth in foster care. The immediate challenge is to ensure that it is implemented and children and youth can benefit from it.  We must also take additional steps to improve outcomes for children and youth. We must do more to prevent child abuse and neglect and to prevent children from entering foster care in the first place, when they can be kept safely with their families. We also must invest in prevention and early intervention services to address the needs of children and families before abuse or neglect occur. There are a number of evidence-based programs and approaches that can inform such investments; home visiting is just one example.

Voluntary home visiting services are an effective, research-based and cost-efficient way to ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow up healthy, safe, ready to learn and able to become productive members of society. Home visiting programs connect families to the supports and services they need to care for their children.  They improve the health of children and their parents, as well as prepare children for school.  These programs break down isolation and engage families in community life - enriching the community as they strengthen families and improve outcomes for children. Investing in this research-proven approach now will mean savings down the road in costs associated with health, education, child maltreatment and criminal justice.

There has been significant attention to home visiting from the President, others in the Administration, the Congress and from advocates. President Obama included in his 2010 budget a quality evidence-based home visiting initiative and both the House and the Senate included reserve clauses for home visiting. There are currently a number of home visiting bills in both the House and the Senate.

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