“Friendly visitor, district visitor, homemaker, visiting teacher, visiting nurse, family social worker, home visitor, family physician – all have provided care and support to families through visit in the home. Professional and lay workers, paid and volunteer, they have brought to families child care information , emotional support, health care, knowledge of community resources, help in learning to copy with everyday problems and, at times, homemaker services.” Wasik and Bryant, 2001
Organized home visiting services in the United States have been in existence for over 100 years, while other countries date back even earlier. Services have most often been prompted by conditions of illness, poverty, or maternal and infant care. Until the 1960s, services tended to be initiated and provided by local communities, with nurses, social workers, and teachers being the major providers. Physicians, psychologists, counselors, physical therapists, occupational therapist, and speech therapist have also provided in–home services.
In the 1960s, as illustrated under History of Home Visiting, we began to see the development of programs for families with a more definitive set of procedures and objectives. The number of more formalized programs serving families with children and/or adolescents expanded considerably in the 1970s and 1980s and we continue to see new programs develop.
The Pew Foundation supported a study of home visiting in the state, showing the extent of home visiting for families with young children at the state level.
Possibly the most significant development related to programs during the past 10 years has been the focus on evidenced-based programs, attending to whether the home visiting services bring about positive outcomes for families and children. This focus on evidenced-based programs is elaborated in detail under Research.
Many home visiting programs are designed to address the needs of specific age groups or populations. Under the Interventions by Client Population, information is presented on home visiting services for families with young children and/or adolescents, addressing issues with child health, maternal health, child development and school readiness, reductions in child maltreatment, reduction in delinquency, family violence, and crime, family economic self-sufficiency, and positive parenting practices. To be included here the program needed to have more than one site as well as a central office that provides information on program goals, materials, and training. We also designate those that have been identified as evidenced-based interventions.