In evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs, parent coaches work with young parents to support the comprehensive developmental needs of young children at risk by:
- Providing child-development education and parenting information to help parents create safe, stimulating home environments
- Modeling positive and language-rich relationships
- Ensuring families are connected to medical, dental, mental-health, and other supports
The Ounce advocates for home visiting as a means to prepare young, inexperienced parents to excel at being their baby’s first teacher. Research has shown that home visiting programs increase children’s literacy and high school graduation rates, and increase how much parents read to their children. In addition, such programs have been shown to increase positive birth outcomes for children, improve the likelihood that families have a medical home, and decrease rates of child abuse and neglect.
Learn more about related research in Home Visitation: Assessing Progress, Managing Expectations.
Access to voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services is critical to helping young parents be their child’s best first teacher. In Illinois, the Ounce presses for adequate and sustainable funding for such high-quality home visiting programs as Healthy Families, doulas, Parents as Teachers, Parents too Soon, Nurse Family Partnership and Baby TALK.
In Illinois, evidence-based home visitation is funded at the state level both through the Illinois State Board of Education and the Department of Human Services. Since 2011, Illinois has also received federal funding for home visiting through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant. See the federal section below for more information about MIECHV.
State and federal home visiting efforts are coordinated through the work of the Home Visiting Task Force, a committee of the Illinois Early Learning Council. The Ounce provides both leadership and staff support to the task force.
In 2010, the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the First Five Years Fund, along with organizations across the country, successfully advocated to authorize the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. MIECHV provided $1.5 billion over five years in formula funding to establish and expand high-quality, evidence-based, voluntary home visiting services to expectant families and those with young children. In Illinois, this MIECHV formula funding was used to build upon the strong existing home visiting infrastructure and provide services to more families.
In 2011, the Ounce helped Illinois win a competitive MIECHV grant, which is used to expand our doula services, conduct a randomized control trial to examine the outcomes of those services, and enhance the Fussy Baby approach.
In 2014, the Ounce participated in a national advocacy campaign that successfully extended MIECHV until March 31, 2015 with a full year of funding.