Home visits for families with young children in Florida’s largest county have dramatically reduced abuse and neglect, increased immunization rates to near 100%, reduced unwanted pregnancies and have cut sudden infant death syndrome cases in half, according to The Hechinger Report.
That success in the Tampa region, where one quarter of the county’s 1.2 million people live in poverty, has been seen nationwide through similar programs that served 312,000 babies in 2016. One report says that for every $1 invested in home visits nearly $6 is saved in medical, social and criminal justice expenses – and schools have found they pay off too.
Congress and the Trump administration have delayed or inadequately funded states to pay for home visit programs and other services that supplement them.
Home visits have also proven effective in schools as a way to improve attendance (especially in pre-k), give teachers more information about incoming students and replace parent conferences covering a variety of issues.
A District of Columbia school's home visit program has been praised for improving attendance, reading proficiency and parent engagement for children in the more than 12,000 families visited, while home visits reportedly increased reading and math scores substantially in Sacramento, cut discipline referrals by nearly half in one Missouri district and moved another district in Kentucky from 126th to 30th in statewide test scores. A struggling Colorado high school’s staff visited all 2,000 students at home after only 75 parents showed up for teacher conferences.
The 20-year-old Parent Teacher Home Visits (PRHV) organization says the strategy can reduce inaccurate assumptions among teachers and help them build relationships with families. PTHV's model calls for a visit in the fall as an introduction and one later in the year about academics. It recommends that visits be voluntary and planned and carried out by pairs of teachers who are compensated and trained.