July 12th, 2022
First 5's Role in Home Visiting BY SARAH CROW, Managing Director
Home visiting provides new parents with coaching, referrals and other support to help them establish a healthy home for their new child. If you’ve had a baby and experienced home visiting, it’s likely your experience is one of having an advocate in your corner, a coach to help you navigate a very vulnerable time, a connector to other services who can provide a lifeline during times of financial instability.
The many models of perinatal, prevention-focused home visiting services have long-documented success improving child and family outcomes. In addition to strengthening the parent-child relationship and increasing overall child and family wellbeing, home visiting services yield impressive dividends to communities, states, tribes, and the federal government not only in human capital but in reduced government expenditures.
As California expands its commitment to home visiting, as it has done with increased funding for the California Home Visiting Program in this year’s state budget, it is important for policymakers, providers and families to have resources to understand how these services are administered, where they are available, and who is ensuring they are meeting family needs.
The field of home visiting is shifting and changing in California as a result of funding changes and the pandemic. On top of that complexity, home visiting services are different in every county, resulting in uneven access to services and different entry points for parents. Advocates, policymakers, families, home visitors and other stakeholders have few resources to understand the landscape of home visiting.
Today the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy is proud to release The Role of First 5s in Home Visiting: Innovations, Challenges, and Opportunities in California, which summarizes the role that First 5s have played in home visiting. Because of their long-standing commitment to home visiting and presence throughout California as innovators, funders, collaborators, conveners, and direct service providers, First 5s hold a wealth of knowledge about the current landscape of home visiting across the state.
This story of First 5s’ investments in home visiting has never been cataloged, however. This report offers a summary of in-depth interviews conducted with 54 of the 58 First 5 commissions, and provides an overview of First 5s role in home visiting over the past 20 years. The interviews also illuminated shifts over time in First 5 home visiting priorities, including an increased focus among some commissions on equity-driven practices and collaboration with other decision-makers to enhance home visiting coordination.
Providing responsive and tailored supports to families with infants and toddlers is a powerful way for California to build a brighter future. First 5s are eager partners to ensure that all families, particularly those who have been marginalized, are offered the support and care they need to provide safe, stable, nurturing homes for their children.