The Pew Center on the States and its partners announced today a targeted $5.6 million campaign to promote smart state investments in evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs for new and expectant families.
In 2010, the Pew Home Visiting Campaign will support statewide advocacy and public education efforts in Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington—where policy makers and community leaders have voiced a commitment to expanding access to, and the quality of, home visitation services.
A corresponding research agenda—made possible by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County—will assemble and advance the evidence needed to inform early childhood public policy decisions and effective program practices.
According to research conducted at the RAND Corporation, over time, evidence-based home visitation yields returns on taxpayer investments of up to $5.70 per dollar spent. These savings are realized as reduced mental health and criminal justice costs, decreased dependence on welfare and increased employment for participating mothers and their children.
Voluntary home visiting programs pair expectant parents with trained professionals to improve their parenting skills, and connect them to community resources and supports during pregnancy and their child's first three years.
"Some of our nation's costliest social problems—such as child abuse and neglect, school failure, poverty, unemployment and crime—are rooted in the first years of life," said Pew Home Visiting Campaign director John Schlitt. "Investing in voluntary, proven home-based programs gives us a chance to break this negative cycle, benefitting families and state budgets."
Many academic studies show mothers participating in home visiting programs are more likely to deliver healthy babies and their children are less likely to suffer abuse and neglect.
"Supporting the Pew Home Visiting Campaign advances our Child Abuse Prevention Program mission to fund efforts that educate and strengthen families before an act of abuse or neglect occurs," said Doris Duke Charitable Foundation program officer Francie Zimmerman. "America's kids deserve every chance to reach their full potential; parents give their children that opportunity by taking responsibility for providing them the best possible start in life."
One of the best known and most rigorously evaluated home visiting programs, the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), found that 15 years after home visits ended, participating mothers had less contact with the justice system (61 percent fewer arrests and 72 percent fewer convictions), as did their children at age 15.
When well designed and implemented, home visiting programs can have a marked impact; however, only a few models have carried out long-term, experimental design studies, and not all of those tested have shown equal results.
To help fill this gap, the campaign's research will explore policy-relevant home visitation questions such as determining what program ingredients generate the most positive results, home visiting's effect on school readiness and how to best engage fathers. These answers will ensure states are able to confidently invest scarce public dollars in proven programs.
"We support Pew's effort to bridge the information gaps about these important programs and believe in their commitment to make early childhood policy recommendations based on rigorous research," said Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County chief executive officer Tana Ebbole. "Particularly in this economic climate, our leaders will look to this sound data to guide them in making the smartest possible public investments."
Learn more about the Pew Home Visiting Campaign.
The Pew Center on the States is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts that identifies and advances effective solutions to critical issues facing states. Pew is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties.
Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County is a special district of local government created through local referendum which granted taxing authority. It invests the public funds in prevention and early intervention programs, focusing on the early years when there is the greatest opportunity to affect positive outcomes.