The overall goal of the Home Visitation Initiative is to improve the physical and emotional health and well-being of infants, children and families in New Jersey by providing community-based education and support to parents and families in their homes. To this end, New Jersey is working to standardize home visitation practices and promote a unified set of objectives for home visitation participants throughout the state.
- Promote healthy pregnancies and improve birth outcomes
- Improve infant and child health outcomes.
- Eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in perinatal and child health measures.
- Strengthen and promote healthy and nurturing parent-child relationships.
- Improve the safety and security of infants, children and families.
- Prevent child maltreatment, abuse and neglect.
Integration of HV into a System of Care: Home visitation services operate most effectively when integrated into a comprehensive system of health, social services and community supports. Collaboration with community partners ensures that linkages are in place for core components and early identification of eligible women/families--prenatal/perinatal screening, risk assessment and referral through a central intake point within a target community.
The Comprehensive Home Visiting System Model was developed by the Joint Working Group of the Prevention Subcommittee of the NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the Governor's Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Comprehensive Home Visiting System. Recommendations from the workgroup include:
- Prenatal Screening – NJ is piloting a standard one-page form included as part of obstetrical care that determines medical and social risk factors during pregnancy. OB and community providers may enter into a Letter of Agreement to share screening information and initiate community referrals for at risk women/families. When screening is not available from the OB provider, community agencies may identify women through other health or social service providers, e.g. outreach programs, WIC, hospitals, county welfare agencies, etc.
- Central Intake – If possible, work with local partners to designate a central intake point in your target community for receipt of screens and referrals to streamline the referral process, improve coordination between programs, avoid duplication of services and improve the utilization of available resources.
- Initial Assessment Visit – An initial assessment visit is conducted by a nurse or other trained assessment worker to determine which home visiting programs or other community-based services the family may be eligible to receive. Since participation in services is voluntary, the pregnant women/family makes the final decision about whether or not to participate.
- Enrollment in HV Services – The NJ Home Visitation Initiative promotes home visiting services that are based on three national “model” programs that require specialized training for home visitors. HV programs are briefly described below.
- Community Collaboration and Linkages – Families often have other related health, social service and early childhood needs. Successful programs are integrated into the system of care to ensure that families have access to a continuum of care that provides additional resources and support services, including: health insurance, primary care, WIC, early intervention, infant/family mental health, addiction, domestic violence, fatherhood services, infant/childcare, family support centers, and more.
Home visiting programs most frequently available in NJ are listed below. Model programs are marked with an asterisk (*):
*Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is specifically for first-time pregnant women or new mothers who enroll in services by the second trimester of pregnancy (28 weeks). Nurse home visitors (RNs) provide health education and family support to parents to improve the health, well-being and self-sufficiency of first-time mothers, fathers and their children. RNs use a standardized curriculum for parent education and ensure linkages to other available community services and supports, as needed. Home visits are weekly and become less frequent over time according to the family’s needs. NFP provides services from pregnancy until the child is two years old. For more information about NFP go to the National Nurse Family Partnership website: http://www.nursefamilypartnership.org
*Healthy Families Program (HF) provides education and supportive services to new and expectant parents. Eligibility for HF services may vary by community and depends upon the specific target population for a given community. The initial assessment visit is completed by a specially trained Family Assessment Worker (FAW). Ongoing home visits are conducted by Family Support Workers (FSWs). Visits continue from enrollment to age three (to age five at some NJ sites). FSWs link new or expectant parents to existing social service and health care resources, and promote positive parenting and the healthy growth and development of infants and children. For more information about HF go to the Healthy Families America website: http://www.healthyfamiliesamerica.org
*Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an early childhood parent education, family support and school readiness program serving families throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten. The program is designed to enhance child health, growth and development, and school achievement as appropriate for all participating families. PAT visits are made by certified Parent Educators. Most PAT visits take place at home, but may also include small group meetings about early childhood development and parenting. Participation continues from enrollment up to age five. PAT workers use a standardized curriculum. Workers ensure that families have linkages and referrals to other needed community networks and resources. For more information about the PAT program go to the Parents As Teachers National website: http://www.parentsasteachers.org
TANF Initiative for Parents (TIP Program) is similar to Healthy Families but is only for eligible recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or General Assistance (GA). Services may begin in the third trimester of pregnancy and continue until the child is age one, or longer on a voluntary basis. TIP includes a combination of home visits and community-based services with the goal of supporting and educating parents to ensure that infants get off to a healthy start.
Local Public Health Nurses or Other Community-Based Home Visitation Programs: While funds are not yet available to offer home visitation to all pregnant women and infants in NJ, some communities in NJ have other resources that may be available to assist you and your family. These may include mother-baby visits from the public health nursing unit at the local public health agency, or other maternal and child home visiting services from local health and/or social service agencies in the community.
For more information about the Home Visitation Initiative or other home visitation services in NJ, please contact the Home Visitation Program in the Office of Early Childhood Services, Sunday Gustin at 609-777-4431 or Deborah Johnson-Kinnard at 609-943-4925.