Many popular home-visitation programs for parents of young children may not be as effective as policymakers believe, a review of the research has found.
Of the six program models whose research track records were reviewed by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, only one—a Denver-based effort called the Nurse-Family Partnership—produced strong evidence of positive results.
Used in 25 states, the Nurse-Family Partnership enlists nurses to visit the homes of pregnant women who will be first-time mothers. Most of the mothers are unmarried women or teenagers from low-income families. Through their visits, which go on for up to two years, the nurses provide families with information on parenting, child development, and other topics.
According to the coalition’s review, which was released last week, three randomized studies of the program—one each in Denver, Elmira, N.Y., and Memphis, Tenn.—have found that it reduces incidences of child abuse and neglect, mothers’ arrests, and the amount of time families are on welfare. The studies also showed that it leads to cognitive and developmental gains for children.
However, studies yielded no, or minimal, positive effects for five other home-visitation programs: Hawaii Healthy Start, Healthy Families New York, Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), Parents as Teachers, and Parent-Child Home Program.
The coalition is a Washington-based group that promotes the use of rigorous research in public policymaking.
A version of this article appeared in the April 08, 2009 edition of Education Week