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Home Visiting & Immigrant Families in a Dynamic Policy Landscape


Eighth National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs

Session Detail

Federal and state immigration policies in the United States are particularly challenging for pregnant women and families with young children, as they often separate families, interrupting the development of children during the most critical period. Home visiting programs are particularly well-suited to help support immigrant families due to many factors, including: the strong and trusting relationship between home visitors and their participants, the multiple supports that home visitors provide to ensure families have access to all the services they need, and the focus on promoting the success of the family and strengthening their protective factors. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about this topic, which is particularly relevant in the current policy environment, and the approaches being taken by a national organization, a philanthropy, and a home visiting program in order to inform both policy and practice at the local, state and federal levels.

The session will include a facilitator who will provide a session overview and goals at the beginning of the session, facilitate the panel discussion, and guide Q/A at the end of the session. The first panelist from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) will bring a national advocacy perspective on this topic, including an overview of the current immigration landscape and findings and resulting recommendations detailed in the multi-state study “Our Children’s Fear: Immigration Policy’s Effects on Young Children” and its companion brief “Immigration Policy’s Harmful Impacts on Early Care and Education”, which included a focus group on this topic with home visitors. The next panelist, from the Irving Harris Foundation, will inform the audience about the Foundation’s investment at the intersection of immigration and early childhood – with a focus on home visiting as part of the sector – and provide overview of curriculum being developed for providers. The next panelist, from MLPB (formerly Medical Legal Partnership Boston), will inform the audience about the medical legal partnership model, partnership with home visitation, and current policy considerations. The final panelists will represent Healthy Families Massachusetts, a program of the Children’s Trust of Massachusetts, describing their work to build home visitor capacity in accessing and sharing legal information and resources during this dynamic period, including use of participant case examples.

Finally, there will be ample time left for audience members to ask questions, share their own experiences and strategies, and engage with the panelists.



Wendy Cervantes   + See Bio

Senior Policy Analyst, Immigration and Immigrant Families, CLASP

Wendy Cervantes is a Senior Policy Analyst at CLASP where she oversees the work across the organization’s policy teams to develop and advocate for policies that support low-income immigrants and their families. As a member of the child care and early education team, she also focuses on improving access to these programs for children of immigrants and children of color.
Prior to joining CLASP, Ms. Cervantes was Vice President of Immigration and Child Rights at First Focus where she led the organization’s federal policy work on immigration and established the Center for the Children of Immigrants. Ms. Cervantes also served as Director of Programs at La Plaza, a Latino community-based organization in central Indiana, where she oversaw the implementation and evaluation of education, health, and social service programs. Earlier in her career, Ms. Cervantes worked at the Annie E. Casey Foundation where she managed the national immigrant and refugee families and the District of Columbia portfolios. She also has experience as a community organizer and an adult ESL instructor. Ms. Cervantes currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Center on Immigration and Child Welfare and the Board of Welcome.US. The proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Ms. Cervantes holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies and Political Science from the University of New Mexico and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Southern California.

Denise Castillo Dell Isola   + See Bio

Senior Program Officer, Irving Harris Foundation

Denise Castillo Dell Isola, J.D., is a Senior Program Officer at the Irving Harris Foundation where she advances the Foundation’s early childhood public policy agenda at the state and federal levels. She manages grants and special initiatives around infant and early childhood mental health, early learning, family support, and early childhood advocacy, policy and systems-building. Dell Isola spearheaded the Foundation’s efforts, in partnership with the public and private sectors, to develop an action plan to better integrate early childhood mental health into Illinois’ child- and family- serving systems. She currently leads the Foundation’s work with the state’s Children’s Mental Health Partnership to advance a public/private partnership with state agency leaders, advocates, foundations, and other stakeholders to advance a mental health consultation initiative in Illinois. More recently, Dell Isola has been leading the Foundation’s rapid response grantmaking at the intersection of immigration and early childhood with a focus on infant early childhood mental health and child trauma. Before joining the Irving Harris Foundation, Dell Isola served as the executive director of an early childhood center in Chicago and practiced commercial litigation at DLA Piper LLP.

Samantha Morton   + See Bio


Samantha J. Morton is CEO of MLPB. Ms. Morton is a national expert on how upstream problem-solving strategies can address people’s social determinants of health (SDOH), and on the power of the health and human services workforces to reduce health disparities and advance health equity for individuals, families and communities. She is leading MLPB’s evidence-based participation in accountable care and patient-centered medical home transformation across the country. Before joining MLPB, Ms. Morton was a litigation associate at Hale & Dorr LLP (now WilmerHale) and a judicial clerk at the United States District Court for the District of Maine. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan School of Law and her BA from Cornell University.

Maria Rader   + See Bio

Supervisor/Clinical Specialist, Healthy Families Central Middlesex

Maria Rader, LCSW, M.Ed, is a supervisor with a Greater Boston area Healthy Families program, where she conducts reflective supervision with home visitors, and provides clinical support regarding program participant mental health concerns when indicated. Just prior to her Healthy Families supervisory role, Maria completed an MSW with intentions of combining her perinatal and early childhood backgrounds. In a research class, she was heartened to read the paper Improving Adolescent Parenting: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial of a Home Visiting Program for Young Families, which became the catalyst to commence her journey supporting the home visiting model.

Jenn Reed   + See Bio

Healthy Families Resource Specialist, The Children’s Trust, Massachusetts

Jenn Reed has worked with Healthy Families Massachusetts since 2005, beginning as a Coordinator/Supervisor. She moved to the Children’s Trust as a Resource Specialist in 2012, where she provides training, technical assistance and quality assurance for supervisors and coordinators in the HFM system. Her focus is supporting trauma-informed, reflective, and narrative practice. She developments content for and facilitates statewide network meetings, regional support forums, and home visitor training for multiple evidence-based home visiting models. Previously, Jenn worked in community, outpatient, in-home stabilization; serving roles from Youth Coordinator to psychotherapist. Jenn earned a Master of Social Work degree in clinical practice at Smith College, School for Social Work.

Shaina Simenas   + See Bio

Managing Social Worker, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Shaina Simenas is the Managing Social Worker for the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights’ New York office. Through her work at the Young Center, Shaina advocates for the best interests of vulnerable unaccompanied immigrant children in federal custody on issues of care, custody, reunification, safe repatriation, and legal relief. She holds master’s degrees in Public Health and Social Work from New York University. While at New York University she worked with middle and high school students in the Bronx, facilitating individual and group counseling for those at risk of dropping out. She received her undergraduate degree from American University in Health Promotion with a minor in Spanish.