As the third installment in FFYF’s blog series on the importance of the MIECHV reauthorization, this blog focuses on the many ways parents are benefiting from home visiting programs.
Home visitors and parents develop strong relationships, with home visitors providing information on a variety of topics, including breastfeeding, safe sleep, avoiding accidental injury to the child, and nutrition. They teach positive parenting skills like reading, play, and praise for good behavior, and connect families with other services and resources in their community. Becoming a parent, especially a first-time parent, is daunting and overwhelming. The support system that MIECHV provides is crucial and it is impossible to overestimate the impact that voluntary home visitation can have on the lives of a child and their parents.
Combating the effects of ACEs
In addition to providing parents with educational and emotional support, current evidence suggests that the screening and support services provided during home visitation can improve parental health. For example, home visitors can search for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) among parents. Both can help improve the overall mental health of parents and the functioning of the family. Research shows that parents who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may inadvertently cause generational trauma to persist by mimicking the parenting experienced. Targeted services that help break this cycle are crucial.
In addition to the psychological distress, parents can also experience health effects as a result of their ACEs. Parents who have experienced ACEs are more likely to struggle with substance abuse, depression, and anxiety, all of which are also related to their child’s well-being. This can create instability in the home and prevent parents from being able to bond or care for their child the way they want. Finally, home visit screening for intimate partner violence can prove life-saving for both the injured partner and the child. With this in mind, MIECHV offers an opportunity to use home visitation as a health intervention for parents and children.
tool for prevention
Just as it has been found that children who receive home-calling services are less involved in the criminal justice system later in life, studies have found that home-calling also reduced parental involvement in the justice system. According to a longitudinal study analyzing the results of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a home-visiting program funded by MIECHV, mothers in the control group (i.e., those who did not participate in the NFP) had three times as many convictions as mothers who were 15 Years later had participated.
Building for the future
Studies have shown that MIECHV plays a crucial role in providing parents with information and support to help them set goals for their future, continue their education and find employment and childcare solutions. MIECHV supports the overall health and well-being of parents, which in turn helps raise children who are physically, emotionally and socially ready to thrive.