What Is Home Visiting?
Home visiting provides family support and coaching through planned, regular visits with a trained professional based on a family’s needs and schedules. Home visiting is a voluntary program, and home visitors work with parents on practical parenting skills as well as family bonding before birth and as children grow up.
Through partnering with the home visitors, families learn how to improve their family’s health and provide better opportunities for their children. Home visits may include:
- Supporting preventive health and prenatal practices;
- Assisting mothers on how best to breastfeed and care for their babies;
- Helping parents understand child development milestones and behaviors;
- Promoting parents’ use of praise and other positive parenting techniques; and
- Working with mothers to set goals for the future, continue their education, and find employment and child care solutions.
Babies do not come with instruction manuals but home visiting may be the next best thing, particularly during this time in a child’s life. The prenatal period and the first years of life are a critical time for brain development that lays the foundation for future success.
Parents Stories in English
Watch these brief English-language videos in which Illinois mothers, who have graduated from home visiting programs, describe their experiences.
Parents Stories in Spanish
Watch these brief Spanish-language videos in which Illinois mothers, who have graduated from home visiting programs, describe their experiences.
Home Visiting Task Force
The Home Visiting Task Force (HVTF) is a standing committee of Illinois’ Early Learning Council. The HVTF consists of approximately 200 members representing state agencies and private sector health, early childhood and child welfare organizations, as well as providers, researchers, and advocates. The HVTF serves as a forum to discuss program, policy, and research that is essential to ensuring that state and federal public policy is informed by the programs on the ground and reflects the research being conducted.
The HVTF works with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development to continue to advance the quality, quantity, and coordination of home visiting services across the funding streams and relevant departments. The HVTF also serves as the strategic advisory body for the federal Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant.
The HVTF has several workgroups that focus on developing recommendations around specific charges, including sustainable financing and connections between home visiting and child welfare. Click here for more information about the HVTF.
If you are interesting in attending a meeting of the HVTF, want to be added to the HVTF’s email distribution list, or just want to learn more about the HVTF’s work, please contact Anna Potere at the Ounce of Prevention Fund by clicking here.
Major Funders in Illinois
The major funders of home visiting services in Illinois are:
- Chicago Public Schools
- Head Start
- Illinois Department of Human Services Healthy Families Illinois and Parents Too Soon
- Illinois State Board of Education
- MIECHV (Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting) Program
The administrators of these programs meet monthly to improve the alignment of data and program expectations across funders.
Research and Evaluation
Home visiting programs use models and curricula whose effectiveness is supported by research.
Getting Involved in Research Projects
If your home visiting program is interested in being a part of research involving home visiting, the following are some opportunities:
- The Home Visiting Applied Research Collaborative (HARC) was established in 2012 to define the national home visiting research agenda and to use innovative research methods to advance the agenda. HARC houses a diverse use innovative research network (PBRN) for conducting collaborative, field-initiated studies with local home visiting programs. This PBRN is a voluntary network. Any local program that provides home visiting for expectant families and/or families of children birth to five years is welcome to join, as are directors of local networks or home visiting programs and researchers who have an interest in home visiting research.
- Mothers and Babies at Northwestern University is a program that promotes healthy mood, bonding with one’s baby, and strategies for pregnant women and new moms to cope with stress in their lives. Mothers and Babies can be implemented one-on-one or in a group setting.
More information on Research and Evaluations Pertaining to Home Visiting
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sponsors the Mothers and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE), which is a legislatively mandated, large-scale evaluation of the effectiveness of home visiting programs funded by the federal Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. The evaluation uses a randomized-control design to determine the impact of home visiting on a wide range of outcomes. Upon completion, the evaluation is expected to involve about 85 program sites and 5,100 families in a dozen states. It examines how program models operate on the local level, and describes the families that participate.
The University of Illinois’ Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD) serves as the external evaluator and benchmark analyst for the Illinois MIECHV program. Click here to be directed to their website which contains research briefs, annual reports and other MIECHV related evaluation documents.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) review to conduct a thorough and transparent review of the home visiting research literature. HomVEE provides an assessment of the evidence of effectiveness for home visiting program models that target families with pregnant women and children from birth to kindergarten entry (i.e., up through age 5). The HomVEE project assesses the quality of the research evidence. Information in HomVEE about program models and implementation reflects information provided by the developer or other model stakeholders.
This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number HRSA-16-172 Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program – Formula. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
It takes a village. Illinois home visiting collaborates with numerous partners in order to support young children and families. These partners include:
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago • Children’s Home + Aid • Easter Seals • Ever Thrive Illinois • Family Focus • Fussy Baby Network at the Erikson Institute • Heartland Alliance • Illinois Action for Children • Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health • Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics • Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership • Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition • Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence • Latino Policy Forum • Metropolitan Family Services • Mothers and Babies Program at Northwestern University • Prevent Child Abuse Illinois • Robert R. McCormick Foundation • Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law • The Irving Harris Foundation • The Ounce of Prevention Fund • Voices for Illinois Children