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Implementing Family Connects

Meets DHHS criteria for an evidenced based model

Model Overview

Last Updated

July 2016


The information in this profile reflects feedback from this model’s developer as of the above date. The description of the implementation of the model here, including any adaptations, may differ from how it was implemented in the studies reviewed to determine this model’s evidence of effectiveness. Inclusion in the implementation report does not mean the practices described meet the DHHS criteria for evidence of effectiveness.


Implementation Support

Family Connects* is a program of the Center for Child & Family Health and the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. The Center for Child & Family Health is a child trauma prevention and treatment center in Durham, North Carolina and houses the Family Connects National Service Office. The National Service Office provides sites with training and implementation support. The Center for Child and Family Policy provides formative and outcome evaluations for all certified Family Connects dissemination sites. Program sites partner with local agencies, such as the local public health department, that serve families with children ages birth to 5 years.

*The program began as a pilot called Durham Connects, which served Durham County, North Carolina. After replication, the model was renamed Family Connects to reflect the model’s larger service area. The model has not changed between the pilot and replication.


Theoretical Model

The model aims to bring families, community agencies, and health care providers together through nurse home visits to ensure that all families have the support and resources they need to promote the well-being of their newborns. The program uses a triage model of care, providing one to three home visits to every family living within a defined service area, typically when the infant is 2 to 12 weeks old. Families with identified needs can receive further support, including additional home visits, telephone contacts, and connections to community resources for longer-term services.


Target Population

The intervention is available to all families with newborns residing within a defined service area. The program targets families with newborns ages 2 to 12 weeks but may reach families earlier or later (up to age 6 months) when special needs are present (for instance, if an infant had been admitted for neonatal intensive care). Sites must have a recruitment plan to reach all eligible families in their defined community area, which could be a city, county, or other geographic area.


Targeted Outcomes

The program aims to support families’ efforts to enhance maternal and child health and well-being. Specific targeted outcomes include (1) increasing families’ connections to community resources; (2) reducing child maltreatment investigations and substantiations; (3) reducing mother and infant use of emergency medical care; (4) improving the quality and safety of the home environment; (5) increasing positive parenting behaviors; (6) reducing parental anxiety and depression; and (7) improving use of high quality child care when day care is desired.


Model Components

Family Connects is a manualized intervention that provides one to three home visits from a registered nurse to all families with newborns living in a specified service area. During the initial home visit, the nurse conducts a physical health assessment of the mother and newborn, provides guidance on topics that are common to all families (such as infant feeding and safe sleeping practices), and assesses family risks and needs. The risk and needs assessment covers 12 factors in 4 domains associated with mother and infant health and well-being (domains and factors are listed in Assessment Tools).

If an assessment indicates a risk or need, nurses directly support families or connect them to community resources, typically through additional home visits and/or telephone contacts. In cases of mild risk, nurses may provide direct support, such as feeding assistance. If a family’s risk is more significant, the nurse collaborates with the family to connect them to desired community services and supports. Supports may include intensive, targeted home visiting programs such as Healthy Families America or Early Head Start, mental health services, public assistance programs, or primary health care providers. Nurses use a searchable database of local agencies, created by local program staff, in making referrals.

One month following case closure, a staff member (the nurse home visitor or another staff member) calls families to determine whether the family contacted the referred agency(ies), is receiving services, has any additional needs, and was satisfied with the program.


Model Intensity and Length

The program provides one to three home visits by a registered nurse approximately 2 to 12 weeks after the child’s birth, and follow-up contacts with families and community agencies to confirm families’ successful linkages with community resources. The initial home visit typically lasts 1.5 to 2 hours. Home visitors provide more than one visit to approximately 30 percent of families based on their needs and continued interest in the program. Approximately 38 percent of families receive at least one follow-up telephone contact. Telephone contacts following the initial home visit address families’ questions, confirm that families connected with referred services, and provide information about additional community resources.



Program sites must operate within defined community boundaries. Family Connects is currently implemented in six North Carolina counties (Durham, Guilford, Bertie, Beaufort, Chowan, and Hyde counties, the last four of which are rural), and three counties in Iowa (Scott, Clinton, and Rock Island counties).


Adaptations and Enhancements

Adaptations or enhancements are not available.



The information contained on this page was last updated in July 2016. Recommended Further Reading lists the sources for this information. In addition, the information contained in this profile was reviewed for accuracy by the Family Connects National Service Office on March 24, 2016. HomVEE reserves the right to edit the profile for clarity and consistency.