CHFC provides an effective home visitation service delivery system to assist at risk families with newborns and young children under the age of five. Empirical evidence has shown that quality home visitation is an effective intervention strategy to deliver family support and child development services to vulnerable families. Families engaged in services with CHFC are provided strength-based interventions that combine positive parenting education, early childhood development screening and education, risk assessment and support, and community connections. CHFC plays a critical role in ensuring that challenged families receive services that focus on recognizing and strengthening protective factors and decreasing risk factors in order to increase family resiliency.
The CHFC has developed a joint strategy to deliver a collaborative, regional home visitation program, known as the Calgary Healthy Families Program. The program provides a network of comprehensive home visitation services based on the needs of families with children from birth to age five. This program is provided by six community agencies.
To ensure that families receive consistent service across all Collaborative agencies, the CHFP uses a structured approach (screening, assessment and intervention) for service delivery. The program’s framework is founded in research and evaluation principles of home visitation.
Families with newborns up to three months of age are eligible to access services.
Empirical evidence supports the efficacy of home visiting programs and their growing capacity to achieve their stated objectives with an increasing proportion of new parents (Daro and Dodge, 2006). The CHFC service focus is to provide home visitation support to those families with newborns who may be experiencing challenges. Services can be provided to families until the youngest child reaches six years of age providing there is continued need for service. Family challenges may include: social isolation, low income, parents without family or community support, limited education of parents, family history of abuse and/or neglect, parents who are unable to cope with day-to-day living and young age of parents. These challenges can impact healthy childhood outcomes. The intention and goal of home visitation within CHFC is to reduce the number and severity of challenges while increasing protective factors, such as secure attachment for the infant, positive family relationships and external social supports, thereby enhancing a family’s capacity to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children. In 2003, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services in the U.S. conluded that by providing home visitation servcies to vulnerable families the risk of child maltreatment was significantly reduced. The 2010 seven-year longitudinal study completed by Healthy Families New York supports this conclusion. Home visitation services are primarily provided in the family home. As a result, barriers relating to childcare and transportation issues, that could potentially impact the use of home visitation services are reduced. Barriers associated with low motivation issues are also significantly reduced. CHFP has found that visiting in the family’s home fosters early identification of family needs and at-risk environmental situations. This in turn creates learning opportunities for the family and facilitates the adaption of home visitation services to meet the needs of individual families.
The Calgary Healthy Families Program provides home visitation services based on the following set of core essentials:earrly intervention,strength-based orientation, family-centered and relationship focused, culturally competent and sensitive, individually focused service intervention identifying needs, strengths, well-defined goals and required resources, high level of home visitor knowledge and skills, strategic timing, intensity and duration of services adjusted to a family’s need and level of risk, quality program implementation, which embraces reflective supervision and highly trained and competent Home Visitors.
Ontario Healthy Babies, Heatlhy Children Program (2010), Healthy Families New York (2010), Prevent Child Abuse America, the World Health Organization (2009) and Butchart & Harvey (2008) have all concluded that home visitation services are most successful if these essential features are present and consistently integrated into the working practices of home visitation agencies and their staff. Healthy Families New York recently completed a seven year longitudinal study of its services crediting its success to its foundation in the above critical elements of home visitation.
Research from the World Health Organization, Chapin Hall and the Center for the Future of Children (Daro, 2006) has concluded that home visitation programs are most effective if they incorporate the following:
- fidelity to the program’s specific framework and established guidelines
- use of a theoretical framework that links both program elements and program outcomes
- strong organizational capacity
- regular collection and reporting of information
- enagagement in and sharing of program research and evaluation information in order to continue building a solid knowledge base for home visitation
The foundation of home visitation services provided by the CHFC is based on and guided by research-based principles of effective home visitation.