What Is Home Visiting?

Early childhood home visiting is a service delivery strategy that matches expectant parents and caregivers of young children with a designated support person—typically a trained nurse, social worker, or early childhood specialist—who guides them through the early stages of raising a family. Services are voluntary, may include caregiver coaching or connecting families to needed services, and provided in the family's home or another location of the family's choice. 

Home visiting is a holistic, two-generation approach.

Home visiting views child and family development from a holistic perspective that encompasses child health and well-being, child development and school readiness, positive parent-child relationships, parent health and well-being, family economic self-sufficiency, and family functioning. A two-generation approach with a lengthy history, home visiting delivers both parent- and child-oriented services to help the whole family thrive. Although services differ across models, home visitors typically—

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Gather Family Information to Tailor Services

  • Screen caregivers for issues like postpartum depression, substance use, and domestic violence
  • Screen children for developmental delays

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Provide Direct Education and Support

  • Provide knowledge and training to make homes safer
  • Promote safe sleep practices
  • Offer information about child development

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Make Referrals and Coordinate Services

  • Help pregnant women access prenatal care
  • Check to make sure children attend well-child visits
  • Connect caregivers with job training and education programs
  • Refer caregivers as needed to mental health or domestic violence resources

Discover more in our Primer and At a Glance resources.

Home visiting outcomes are supported by research.

Research shows that voluntary home visiting programs help improve infant and maternal health, develop safe homes and nurturing relationships to prevent prevent child abuse and injury or mortality, support early learning and long-term academic achievement, and make referrals and coordinate services. Studies have found a return on investment of $1.80 to $5.70 for every dollar spent. This strong return on investment is consistent with established research on other types of early childhood interventions.

Learn more about the benefits.

Many models are evidence based or on the path to becoming so. 

Programs choose from a variety of models to implement with families, each suited to differing community needs, target obstacles, and available resources. The Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) project administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a set of criteria for evidence of model effectiveness. Models that meet criteria are deemed evidence based. NHVRC surveys evidence-based and emerging models at the national, state/local, and tribal levels annually to provide a comprehensive assessment of the landscape in our Yearbook. 

Visit our model profiles for details on individual models.