Karen Kavanaugh

Karen Kavanaugh

  • Director
  • Home Visiting,
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts


Karen Kavanaugh directs the home visiting project. She heads Pew’s work with legislators and other leaders to promote smart state and federal policies and investments in quality, home-based family support and coaching programs for new and expectant families.

As the project lead, Kavanaugh oversees Pew’s endeavor to increase state and federal investments in home visiting family support programs and help states improve the accountability and performance of their home visiting systems. Through the Home Visiting Data for Performance Initiative, states are enhancing their data collection to ensure that their home visiting efforts are resulting in meaningful outcomes for participating families and children and a solid return on investment for taxpayers.

Previously, she was the manager of the project, responsible for guiding the state policy and advocacy work.  She also was the director of public policy at the Southwest Detroit Business Association, a senior policy analyst with the Michigan House of Representatives’ majority floor leader, and a federal policy adviser to then-Governor Jennifer Granholm. She has extensive experience in building and sustaining coalitions to move public policy agendas.

She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.

Recent Work

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  • Home Visiting Family Support Programs

    The federally funded, locally administered Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program sponsors family support programs that are often called “home visiting” because they take place in the homes of at-risk families. These families often lack support, experience, and knowledge of basic parenting skills. Because children don't arrive with instruction manuals, home... Read More

  • U.S. Senators From Iowa Promote Family Support, Coaching

    On April 20 and 21, Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) Iowa held its annual conference, “Building Healthy Families,” with a keynote address by Karen Kavanaugh, Pew’s home visiting campaign director, and video remarks from Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin about the importance of early-childhood family support and coaching, or home visiting, programs in Iowa and across the U.S. Sens.... Read More

  • U.S. Congress Extends Funding for Vital Family Program

    On March 31, the U.S. Senate approved a six-month extension for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, or MIECHV, program, following the same action by the U.S. House of Representatives the previous week. This federal-state partnership is a proven strategy for strengthening families and saving money. Read More

Media Contact

Jennifer Stapleton

Officer, Communications