DuMont, K., Kirkland, K., Mitchell-Herzfeld, S., Ehrhard-Dietzel, S., Rodriguez, M. L., Lee, E., ... & Greene, R. (2010). A randomized trial of Healthy Families New York (HFNY): Does home visiting prevent child maltreatment? Rensselaer, NY: New York State Office of Children & Family Services and Albany, NY: University of Albany, State University of New York.
Community agencies, including prenatal care providers and hospitals, screened expectant parents and parents with an infant younger than three months of age who lived in high-risk target areas and who were considered to be at risk for child abuse or neglect. Women were selected for the study following the same screening and assessment procedures used to determine eligibility for Healthy Families New York (HFNY). Family assessment workers (FAWs) obtained informed consent from women before the administration of a well-established risk assessment tool. In total 1,254 mothers were randomly assigned (intervention, n = 621; control, n = 633), and 1,173 mothers (intervention, n = 579; control, n = 594) completed baseline interviews. Thirty-four percent of the mothers were white, non-Latina; 45 percent were African American, non-Latina; and 18 percent were Latina.
This study took place in three sites within the HFNY home visiting program.
HFNY,whichis based on the Healthy Families America (HFA) model, was established as a strengths-based, intensive home visitation program with the explicit goals of 1) promoting positive parenting skills and parent-child interaction; 2) preventing child abuse and neglect; 3) supporting optimal prenatal care, and child health and development; and 4) improving parent’s self-sufficiency.
Families are provided intensive home visitation services bi-weekly during the prenatal period, weekly until the child is at least six months old, and periodically thereafter based on the needs of the family until the child begins school or Head Start. Home visits typically emphasize content that is appropriate to the particular service level on which the family is currently assigned. For example, visits on the prenatal level focus on promoting adequate prenatal care and providing information regarding fetal development, as well as preparing the family for childbirth and providing instruction on the care and safety of a newborn. Postnatal visits focus primarily on promoting positive parent-child interactions, educating parents about child growth and development, and enhancing family functioning and self-sufficiency.
HFNY programs determine the most appropriate curricula to use during home visits based on the specific needs and characteristics of individual families. At all stages, home visitors provide support, education, information, and activities designed to promote healthy parenting behaviors and child growth, including proper nutrition, age-appropriate behaviors, and positive discipline strategies. Home visitors also help mothers access health care and other services as needed; identify and address issues regarding positive family functioning; and discuss childcare, education, training, and employment options.
The control group was given information on and received referrals to appropriate services other than home visiting.
The program is primarily delivered by trained paraprofessionals who typically come from the communities that the program targets for service.
This research was supported by Award No: 2006-MU-MU-0002 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.