Home Visitors: a Source of Support for Families

Home visitors play a big role in the lives of many young families around the country, but home visitation programs are perhaps not as well known as they should be. These programs provide young families with support and instruction in child development, helping parents to cope with stress and employment while expecting or raising a young child. A recent piece on NPR demonstrates the need for such programs by following a family support worker, Rosendo Gil, as he works to help one California couple raise their daughter.

 

Blas Lopez and Lluvia Padilla are the parents of 3-year-old Leilanie Lopez. Gil has provided support for this couple and have taught them how to deal with the stresses of juggling everyday life while raising a child. He’s taught them what to do when Leilanie has a fever, and the importance of reading to her each night. Services like the one that Gil provides offer necessary guidance for young parents to raise healthy children.

 

“He’s like a friend,” says Lopez, a former migrant worker who is studying to get his high school diploma. “We have counted on him.”
— NPR

 

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act became the first piece of federal legislation to provide funding for home visiting organizations nationwide. The NPR article reports that annual federal grants totaling $400 million fund these organizations, helping new parents face the challenge of raising healthy children amidst poverty, substance abuse, depression and domestic violence. In 2016 alone, 160,000 parents and children were reached through home visiting organizations.

 

However, without reauthorization from Congress, this funding is set to expire in about a month. Advocates and health providers are urgently asking Congress to renew this funding and possibly extend its reach. Regardless of what happens in September, it is probably important to consider the impact that home visitation programs have been shown to have: the programs “help improve child and maternal health,” and “reduce abuse and neglect.” Importantly, these programs help parents avoid “revert[ing]” in stressful situations to the ways they themselves were parented, and overcome cyclical challenges, such as substance abuse, according to the article.

 

It’s evident that the health of the home and family directly impacts a child’s development, and any resources that aid young parents in adjusting to their new roles can have a huge impact. Programs like home visitation are well worth researching further, with the hope that more of these programs could work with schools and communities to enrich children’s health on a larger scale.