Early Childhood Home Visiting Research

Mother nursing baby

Early childhood home visiting is a two-generational service delivery approach that improves outcomes for children and their families. Home visiting programs are a crucial policy lever for reducing child abuse and neglect and supporting parents as they work toward their educational and financial goals.

The Urban Institute is delivering timely data and insights on early childhood home visiting in consultation with model developers and other key stakeholders to strengthen program implementation and build an evidence base. Our work is grounded in local context to ensure project results are relevant and useful to practitioners and policymakers.

Major areas of work

Estimating program reach and potential need

We colead the National Home Visiting Resource Center to collect, synthesize, and disseminate information on early childhood home visiting to inform practice and policy. The National Home Visiting Yearbook captures the landscape of home visiting in the US. We use census data to estimate the number of children and families in each state meeting one or more targeting criteria. Our analyses reveal gaps in home visiting services. In a concept paper for the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, we recommend strategies for expanding evidence-based home visiting to reduce poverty and improve health.

Documenting innovative approaches

We review existing literature and conduct interviews with key stakeholders, including parents, to learn how home visiting programs are approaching important issues (e.g., father engagement) and implementing professional development on sensitive topics (e.g., maternal depression, substance abuse, domestic violence). Our publications document their experiences, challenges, and perceived benefits.

Evaluating promising home visiting models

Over a six-year period, with funding from First 5 LA, we led a mixed-methods evaluation of the Welcome Baby pilot home visiting program in Los Angeles. The results influenced First 5 LA’s plans for program expansion county-wide, as it seeks to reach diverse populations and further build its evidence base.  

Examining the home visiting workforce and their career pathways

We are conducting a national survey of the home visiting workforce in local agencies receiving funding from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. Coupled with case studies in eight states, survey findings will describe the characteristics and qualifications of home visitors, their career trajectories, and strategies to recruit and retain a qualified staff.

Designing early childhood pay for success project evaluations

In Spartanburg City, South Carolina, we are designing evaluation options for the Hello Family pay for success project, which offers a continuum of early childhood interventions from birth through prekindergarten, including prenatal doula services, postpartum home visits, and parenting education. We collaborated with the city government, local philanthropy, and service providers to identify data sources and measures for potential child and family outcomes.