August 12, 2016 by Craig LeCroy
When parents participate in a home visitation program designed to teach parenting skills, promote attachment, enhance child development, and address risks families face, key outcomes can be achieved according to a new study conducted in Arizona by LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc.
The study was funded by the U. S. Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau to conduct a rigorous evaluation of an existing prevention program for multi-risk families. The study examined Healthy Families Arizona, a program accredited by Prevent Child Abuse America. It was conducted by LeCroy & Milligan Associates over the past five years. The initial results were published in the journal Research on Social Work Practice this spring.
The study used a randomized controlled design—which provides the strongest evidence of program effects. Findings favored the program participants, above and beyond control group participants, who did not receive services, on outcomes in 6 different domains including parenting behaviors, mental health, health, use of resources, reduced violence, and safety.
“I was most impressed with the findings that parents in the Healthy Families home visitation program created a more positive home environment for their children, breast fed their children more, read to their children more, and engaged in less violent behaviors toward their children”, noted Dr. Craig LeCroy, lead researcher involved in the study. “Many home visitation programs have not produced such strong results and this study will become part of the evidence base establishing the effectiveness of home visitation.”
Home visiting is supported by the Affordable Health Care Act and programs have grown exponentially since 2010. Using a program model that identifies families who would like additional support after having a baby, home visitors visit the family in their home and provide families with support, teach parents activities to promote positive parent child interaction, assess children to make sure they are developing normally, and help families with everyday stresses.
“The program shows parents how to become more connected to their child” says Jenna Shroyer Program Manager for the Healthy Families program. “This program has worked hard to gather data and provide evidence that funders and community leaders want to see. It means that program funds are being well spent.”
The Healthy Families Arizona program has been in existence since 1991 with a strong blended state and federal funding structure. Arizona was the first state to receive statewide national accreditation of its program by Prevent Child Abuse America. The program will celebrate 25 years of service to thousands of families this year.
Our dynamic evaluation and data management teams at LeCroy & Milligan Associates have conducted annual evaluation studies, 2 longitudinal studies and numerous sub-studies to examine a variety of outcomes and implementation issues (see our publications page for some reports).