Families & the Community

Home Visits Help New Families; Support School Readiness

By Lesli A. Maxwell — August 23, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Kindergartners across the country are kicking off their official schooling careers over the next several weeks (some are already underway), but up to 45 percent of them won’t be “ready to learn,” under a definition that includes certain cognitive skills, but also physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and the ability to relate to others.

Most of the children who fall short of that definition of school readiness come from low-income communities in households often headed by a single mother.

That sobering reminder about the gaps that exist even as children are just embarking on their schooling comes from the Pew Center on the States and its campaign for state governments to invest more resources into voluntary home visiting programs for expectant and new families. There are scores of home visiting programs designed to address a slew of health, social, and educational challenges that manifest in the earliest stages of a child’s life (even in utero). These programs pair professionals such as nurses or social workers with parents who volunteer to receive support and information about good parenting that can start as early as pregnancy and reach into a child’s fifth year of life.

Pew’s home visiting campaign advocates for a dozen home visiting programs that have proven to deliver good outcomes and that can be closely monitored for results.

Libby Doggett, the director of Pew’s home visiting campaign, told me that as the new school year gets underway and the usual discussions resume on how to boost achievement and raise graduation rates, superintendents, school board leaders, and other education policymakers need to consider strategies that start way before kindergarten, and even before preschool.

“School boards and policy leaders need to look much farther back and see that lo and behold, one of the great interventions that can affect their graduation rates is home visiting,” she said. “It’s a simple concept that has really never been more powerful.”

One study of a particular home visiting program—done in 1998—found that 84 percent of students whose families had participated graduated from high school, while 54 percent of students who did not participate earned diplomas.

Ms. Doggett said the federal government has sunk more money into home visiting programs based on that same research and more recent studies have shown strong positive outcomes for children (including higher reading and math test scores) whose families were in nurse home visiting. In the Affordable Care Act, for example, $1.5 billion was allocated to create the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, which provides grants to states, she said. The feds have also defined the 12 models of home visiting that meet the highest levels of evidence for good outcomes, she said, and those are the programs that Pew is pushing in its campaign in the states.

Already this year, three states—Iowa, Michigan, and Maryland—passed legislation supported by Pew that will ensure that those states’ investments in home visiting will go to proven programs.

Like just about any government-funded program, home visiting does get ensnared in politics. Just this week, Florida turned down the nearly $5 million that the federal government was set to award home visiting programs around the state. According to the Tampa Bay Times, state lawmakers rejected the money because of its connection to the controversial Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Reported Essay Pandemic Parents Are More Engaged. How Can Schools Keep It Going?
Families have a better sense of what their child is learning, but schools will have to make some structural shifts to build on what they started.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Families & the Community Opinion How to Preserve the Good Parts of Pandemic Schooling
Yes, there have been a few silver linings for student well-being in the pandemic. Let’s not lose them now, write two researchers.
Laura Clary & Tamar Mendelson
4 min read
A student and teacher communicate through a screen.
iStock/Getty
Families & the Community COVID Protocols Keep Changing. Here's How Schools Can Keep Parents in the Know
Parents and educators shared best practices for effective communication related to the pandemic. It all centers on transparency.
6 min read
communication information network 1264145800 b
cagkansayin/iStock/Getty
Families & the Community Teachers' Union, Education Groups Unite to Resist Critical Race Theory Bans
Some of the country’s most prominent education groups are organizing against efforts to restrict teaching students about racism.
3 min read
Image of a "stop" hand overlaying a circle with a red diagonal line.
DigitalVision Vectors