Implementing Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting Program (MECSH)
Implementation last updated: 2020
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The Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting (MECSH) program* is a program of Western Sydney University (under license with the University of New South Wales), Australia, which provides implementation support. MECSH is usually implemented within the context of a universal maternal, child, and family health services system. In Australia, this system guarantees all women access to free prenatal care and free health care services for children from birth to age 5 years. However, the model can be adapted for different systems and to meet local needs (described under Model Components).
Consultants based in the United States and the Sydney, Australia, MECSH International Support Team support implementation of the model in the United States.
* The model was formerly known as the Miller Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting program.
The model serves parents with children younger than age 2 years who are at risk of adverse parental and/or child health and development outcomes. Eligible clients are pregnant women (of any maternal age and with any number of children) or parents/caregivers of any gender who (1) have newborns up to eight weeks post-discharge from the hospital; (2) demonstrate psycho-, socio-, demographic, and/or health characteristics that place the child at risk of poor health and development; and (3) lack the ability to adapt and self-manage.
To determine eligibility, parents are assessed for the following risk factors: lack of support, history of mental illness or childhood abuse, depression, anxiety, life stressors, history of domestic violence, or alcohol or drug use in the home.
MECSH is designed to support parents’ transition to parenthood as they learn to adapt and self-manage despite day-to-day challenges; improve parental and child health and well-being; help parents establish and achieve goals for themselves and their children; and help parents foster relationships within the family and community.
MECSH provides individualized, home-based services focusing on parent education, maternal health and well-being, family relationships, and goal setting. MECSH includes a set of core elements—the MECSH core curriculum and Learning to Communicate curriculum—that agencies must implement. A series of modules using evidence-based curricula, called focus modules, may be added to the core model. The implementing agencies and developer work together to select focus modules to address local needs.
The nurse home visitors implement the Learning to Communicate curriculum when the child is one month old. The curriculum is designed to foster children’s development and is delivered monthly for 12 months. Home visitors also support families on issues such as housing and finances. Home visitors receive support from and refer families to practitioners within the maternal, child, and family health services system, as necessary.
In addition to home visiting, MECSH provides group activities such as parenting groups and links families to events within the community.
Model intensity and length
Ideally, families enroll prenatally. However, families may enroll up to eight weeks after their newborn has been discharged from the hospital. MECSH is designed to provide a minimum of 25 home visits for families who enrolled prenatally and 22 visits for families who enrolled postnatally. These visits continue until the child’s second birthday and last from 60 to 90 minutes.
Families enrolled prenatally receive three prenatal visits. After the baby is born, families receive weekly visits until the child is 6 weeks old, visits every two weeks until the child is 12 weeks old, and visits every three weeks until the child is 6 months old. Then visits are spaced incrementally further apart and continue until the child’s second birthday.
Adaptations and enhancements
The information contained on this page was last updated in July 2020. Recommended further reading lists the sources for this information. In addition, the information contained in this profile was reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Lynn Kemp at the Western Sydney University on February 21, 2020. HomVEE reserves the right to edit the profile for clarity and consistency.