Lessons Learned: Implementation of Pilot Universal Postpartum Nurse Home Visiting Program, Massachusetts 2013–2016




Katie Stetler, Christine Silva, Susan E. Manning, Elizabeth M. Harvey, Emma Posner, Becca Walmer, Karin Downs, and Milton Kotelchuck

Brief Type

Journal publication


  • Other Models


Purpose: Home visiting programs for new families in the United States have traditionally served high-risk families. In contrast, universal home visiting models serve all families regardless of income, age, risk or other criteria. They offer an entry point into a system of care for children and families, with the potential to improve population health. This paper describes lessons learned from the first three years of implementing a universal home visiting model. Description: Welcome Family is a universal home visiting program in Massachusetts that offers a one-time visit by a nurse to new mothers up to eight weeks postpartum. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) is piloting Welcome Family in four communities with the goal of expanding statewide. Assessment: Welcome Family served over 3000 families in its first three years. Program performance measures provided a framework to examine successes and challenges related to outreach and enrollment, program operations, and linkages with community resources. Early challenges included increasing referrals to a new program and limited capacity to serve all women giving birth. Local implementing agencies tested innovative strategies and MDPH made program modifications, such as developing quarterly data reports and establishing a learning collaborative, to address identified challenges. Conclusion: MDPH is committed to the success of Welcome Family and uses continuous quality improvement to maximize the impact of the program on families and the system of care in Massachusetts. Lessons learned from the Massachusetts pilot can inform other states' efforts to enhance their early childhood systems of care through expanding universal home visiting. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Program administrative record reviews



For More Information

Stetler, K., Silva, C., Manning, S. E., Harvey, E. M., Posner, E., Walmer, B., . . . Kotelchuck, M. (2018). Lessons learned: Implementation of pilot universal postpartum nurse home visiting program, Massachusetts 2013–2016. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 22(1), 11–16. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-017-2385-x
Author Contact Information:
Katie Stetler


  • Program Quality, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Fidelity
  • Participant Recruitment, Retention, Engagement, and Dosage