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Implementing Home-Start

Model Overview

Last Updated

July 2015


The information in this profile reflects feedback, if provided, 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 HHS criteria for evidence of effectiveness.


Implementation Support

Home-Start originated in the United Kingdom (UK) and consists of Home-Start UK, the national support association, and more than 280 local Home-Start projects. Home-Start Worldwide, a sister organization established by Home-Start UK trustees, develops and provides support to Home-Start projects operating in more than 22 countries around the world.

The information in the remainder of this profile describes Home-Start UK, unless otherwise indicated that the information is specifically related to Home-Start Worldwide.


Theoretical Model

Home-Start believes that all children should have the support they need to develop and thrive. Through semi-formal, volunteer-led home visits, the program is designed to provide families with support, friendship, and practical help. The goal is to increase parents’ confidence and foster the parenting, budgetary, and life skills necessary for positive outcomes for their children.

The Home-Start model is based on the following theory of change (Sameroff & Fiese, 2000):

  • Parents’ well-being is enhanced when families are provided structured, supervised social support;
  • This leads to increased feelings of parental self-competence;
  • Parental behavior becomes more adaptive and child behavior improves.


Target Population

Home-Start focuses on the five years between birth and school, primarily serving families with children younger than age 5. The HomVEE review is based on Home-Start used with families with children age 5 years or younger.

The program supports families who might be struggling to cope with a variety of challenges, including perinatal mental health issues, disability, domestic violence, isolation, poverty, bereavement, multiple births, and the demands of parenting young children.

Families may request support or may be referred by their general practitioner or other social service, health, education, or early years professional. The program is provided to families that request or agree to home visits by a local Home-Start volunteer.


Targeted Outcomes

Home-Start aims to build parents’ resilience and coping skills.


Model Components

Home-Start coordinators set up an initial visit with the family to discuss its needs and tell the family about the program. The coordinator then matches the skills and experiences of a trained and supervised volunteer home visitor to the needs of the family.

Home-Start services are flexible and each home visitor adapts services to the needs of individual families. Volunteers can provide families with emotional and social support and encouragement; assistance developing life skills such as planning or financial management; assistance with parenting situations or the development of positive parenting practices, or help accessing additional services.

In addition to home visits, Home-Start programs may also offer family group sessions, postnatal depression support groups, healthy eating projects, or special support for fathers. Some Home-Start programs also organize social events and outings to bring local parents and children together.


Model Intensity and Length

Volunteers usually visit a parent in his or her home once a week for about two to three hours. Services typically last six months, but may continue as long as the family has specific needs. Some projects have set intervention periods.



Home-Start is offered in more than 280 communities in the UK and to families in the British Armed Forces in Germany and Cyprus. The Home-Start Worldwide network includes programs in more than 22 countries, across 5 continents.


Adaptations and Enhancements

Local Home-Start programs are able to extend and develop their services to meet local needs. Local projects have focused on maximizing income to help families access financial benefits and grants, speech and language development, school readiness support, postnatal depression support for mothers and fathers, support with debt, and other initiatives specific to their communities.



The information contained on this page was last updated in July 2015. Recommended Further Reading lists the sources for this information. In addition, the information contained in this profile was reviewed for accuracy by Home-Start UK on April 24, 2015. HomVEE reserves the right to edit the profile for clarity and consistency.