Home Visiting has proven benefits, but in NYS there are Problems
A quarter of a million babies are born in New York each year. Nearly half are born to low-income families and over 100,000 are born to first-time mothers. The Schuyler Center places a priority on ensuring a strong start for all children and families. This includes efforts to improve child and family outcomes through prenatal and postpartum supports and services for families with young children, including maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting.
Evidence-based home visiting programs are designed to support new parents and families with young children. As the name implies, home visitors are trained educators such as nurses, social workers, or other health professionals who visit the homes of voluntarily-enrolled families on a weekly or monthly basis. These programs offer health, psychological, parenting, and other services tailored to each family’s unique needs. Home visiting is free and voluntary. The visitor meets families in their homes, making this an affordable and convenient option for parents. Home visiting programs also play a key role in making referrals to medical providers, mental health services, social services, and other community resources to at-risk households.
Home visiting has proven benefits for both children and families. It has been shown to improve birth outcomes, increase high school graduation rates for children, lower dependence on welfare services, and reduce the incidence of child maltreatment. Furthermore, home visitation services are cost-effective, requiring little immediate spending while yielding savings over the course of a child’s life.
While this sounds excellent, there is one problem: in New York State, there is a huge discrepancy between how many people need these services, and how many don’t get them.
In July 2020, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy collaborated with Prevent Child Abuse NY, the NYS Council on Children and Families, and Raising New York to create maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting data snapshots that are now available for every county in New York State and each of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) regions. This was an effort to update the county level snapshots previously released in 2016. Each region’s home visiting capacity is based on the amount of funding they receive, which in turn, alots their capacity for how many families each program is able to serve. We at Schuyler Center realized that there was no way of knowing the needs of the community; no assessment to decide whether or not home visiting should be available to certain populations. We took on the task of comparing the number of children who needed services against the number of children who could be served—children living in poverty, with unemployed parents, or living on government services like SNAP, SSI, etc.—and found a huge discrepancy:
New York has the average capacity to serve six percent of babies in low income families and only three percent of children from age zero to three.
That is only a fragment of the data we found. The frightening fact is that the capacity for home visiting in most counties in New York State does not align with the needs within the community. Our updated data snapshots show how many children need these services; services that benefit both the mother and the child. We will be working alongside our legislative and community partners, including the NYS Council on Children and Families and Raising New York, to advance policies that will enable more New York families to access these important—often life-changing—services.
View the data snapshots and Raising New York’s policy brief: Needed Now More Than Ever, A Coordinated System of Home Visitation in the Era of COVID-19.