It’s always exciting when the media reports on innovative programs and initiatives that are aimed at the healthy development of families and the prevention of child abuse and neglect. It’s even more thrilling when they report on proven approaches like the home visiting model we developed, Healthy Families America.
This past Monday’s Washington Post contains a well written profile titled ” Home visiting programs are preschool in its earliest form.“ It discusses the huge impact that home visiting programs can have on the lives of children and their families and highlights their role in a national plan for universal preschool…another strategy that is good for our nation.
We believe in the importance of home visiting and commend any effort to increase the visibility of home visiting programs such as Healthy Families America and highlight the ways that these programs can augment the formative years of our nation’s children.
Yet despite the profound successes of home visitation services, many myths continue. Discussions such as a “government takeover of the family,” or home visitation is a service intended to “subsidize people who make lousy choices,” still exist. But let’s talk about what home visiting really is.
Home visiting services are designed to:
Help parents initiate and maintain a life-long relationship with their child;
Promote child-child respect even at the toddler stage to decrease the likelihood the child subsequently develops bullying or domestic violence behavior;
Help new parents address the overwhelming sense of responsibility and importance in raising a child to transition into adulthood as a contributing member of the community;
Support parents in completing their education and obtaining gainful employment; and
Most importantly, help families feel connected to their community, a community they live in, and a community which is filled with wonderful community services to help parents be the parents they want to be.
Further, home visitation services are completely voluntary and open to parents of all demographics, ages and locations.
Our national goal is to create the best environment possible for children in America. We know that the annual cost of child abuse is well over $80 billion. That’s more than $200 million a day spent on something that is preventable. Services like Healthy Families America save taxpayer money and as importantly strengthen the very core of our society…families.
But it’s not just the money that’s important.
What’s important is that these families are better equipped to deal with the stresses of parenthood, better informed on the best ways to nurture their child and help them grow, and better able to respond to challenges without harming their child in any way.
“We believe in services like Healthy Families America because they’re proven to build stable, nurturing, and knowledgeable families,” said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America . “The healthier our families are, the healthier our communities and our nations. We also applaud the parents who are taking steps to do everything they can for their child and the Washington Post for recognizing this as well. My question therefore focuses not on how we make our nation stronger, we know how. My question is why everyone wouldn’t want to make our families stronger, our communities more vibrant, our economy more competitive, and our people more happy. It seems simple to me.”