Photo courtesy of Deborah Daro

Welcome to the National Home Visiting Resource Center (NHVRC), a source for comprehensive information about early childhood home visiting. Writing in 1976, Dr. C. Henry Kempe, the father of our modern response to child maltreatment, promoted home visiting as a promising strategy for prevention. Such services, he argued, could be delivered by lay visitors across the country who would build on “their success as mothers and their intimate knowledge of the community they serve.” These two program standards—educating new parents on how best to care for their children and creating a community context that can help parents be successful—have guided the development and replication of multiple home visiting models for more than 40 years.

Doing More, for More Families

The challenges faced by present-day children and families require more than well-intended mothers. There is now a continuum of high-quality, home-based options that differ in their eligibility criteria, staffing plans, content, duration, and dosage. Today’s home visiting programs target a range of concerns, measuring their success on their ability to reduce the risk of child maltreatment and to promote optimal child development and parental capacity. They seek to prepare children for school success and help parents achieve economic independence by addressing barriers such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and domestic violence.

Modern home visiting is also funded by a range of sources, including private philanthropy, state and local initiatives, and, most recently, a dedicated federal initiative. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), initially authorized in 2010, has had a measurable impact on the number of families served by home visiting. It has also extended the reach of home visiting into previously underserved areas such as frontier communities, U.S. territories, and tribal lands. While as a field, we have not realized Dr. Kempe’s vision, we are much clearer on its value and what it will take to get there.

Taking Action to Sustain Impact

Expanding programs and service availability is one way of defining success. In addition to doing more, however, it is essential that we realize more substantive and sustained impacts on families and communities. The NHVRC’s 2017 Home Visiting Yearbook is a potentially powerful tool for achieving this more challenging objective. It serves as a resource and common reference point for those providing, researching, or funding home visiting programs. Perusing its content, readers will learn how home visiting is spreading in their own communities and what the gap looks like between those receiving services and those who could benefit.

One cannot just be a consumer of these data. To be successful, the Yearbook requires that multiple players in the field—model developers, state planners, local program administrators, federal agencies, private funders, researchers, and advocates—share their knowledge and concerns with their colleagues. It requires the contribution of quality data from across the field. And it requires a collective effort fueled by a continuous exchange of ideas. The NHVRC is a community in which those conversations can occur. Visit the Share a Story page to convey your experience with home visiting. Participate in the quarterly call for papers to share your work with the field. Check back often to access new products, such as upcoming research briefs. And subscribe to NHVRC News to hear about the latest resources and opportunities.

Building a field, creating a system, or expanding an innovation is never achieved by one individual or even one set of actors. We hope you will use the NHVRC and its 2017 Home Visiting Yearbook to learn more about early childhood home visiting and to come together to secure its success.