Healthy Families America
Healthy Families America (HFA) is a nationally recognized, evidence-based home visiting model designed to work with overburdened families who are at-risk for adverse childhood experiences, including child maltreatment. Launched in 1992, HFA was developed as a direct response to the US Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect report, issued in 1991, calling for immediate and urgent attention directed at the “national emergency” of child abuse in the United States. A second report concentrated its recommendations on the federal government’s role and strongly emphasized the importance of making prevention a key strategy by implementing voluntary neonatal home visitation programs. Since 1992, HFA sites have served hundreds of thousands of families, and on average sites serve more than 75,000 families annually in 40 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Canada.
In February 2011, the United States Department of Health and Human Services named HFA as a proven home visiting model after a thorough and transparent review of the home visiting research literature that looked at more than 250 home visiting models. The HFA model’s effectiveness was based fifty (50) studies illustrating its effectiveness in eight (8) areas: Child Development and School Readiness; Child Health; Family Economic Self-Sufficiency; Linkages and Referrals; Maternal Health; Positive Parenting Practices; Reductions in Child Maltreatment; and, Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence, and Crime. HFA is a home visiting model equipped to work with parents who may have histories of trauma, and who may experience intimate partner violence, mental health and/or substance abuse issues. The HFA model is theoretically rooted in the belief that early, nurturing relationships are the foundation for life-long, healthy development. Well trained home visitors provide services in family’s homes providing them an opportunity to experience the family’s living environment, to develop first-hand knowledge of the strengths and stressors of the home environment, to implement home safety assessments with the family, and to engage the family on “their turf”. Services are initiated prenatally or right after the birth of a baby and are offered voluntarily, intensively and over the long-term, for a minimum of 3 years after the birth of the baby and in many cases up to the child’s fifth birthday.
The HFA National Office is responsible for ensuring the model is implemented with quality and fidelity by making certain sites and staff is equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the model and to help mitigate the impact of serious stressors in the lives of families being served. For more than twenty years, the HFA national office has focused on both expanding and sustaining HFA by assisting states in building their own infrastructures for advocacy, funding, training, quality assurance and evaluation. Furthermore, the HFA model is built upon a set of 12 research-based critical elements that provide a benchmark in which quality is measured, and requires its sites to successfully complete a comprehensive and rigorous accreditation process linked to best practice standards. All of these services ensure HFA families receive quality services with proven results.
HFA programs currently serve an estimated 86,000 families annually. Forty five percent of families are Caucasian, 27% Latino, and 22% African American. Families of Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and other origins make up 6% of participants. The majority of sites (75%) now serve families with more than one child, versus focusing solely on first-time parents like many other models do. These families tend to be single (69%), low income (72%) and 29 or younger (81%) with 63% under the age of 25.
All children receive nurturing care from their family essential to leading a healthy and productive life.
To promote child well-being and prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children through home visiting services.
HFA Program Goals:
- Build and sustain community partnerships to systematically engage overburdened families in home visiting services prenatally or at birth.
- Cultivate and strengthen nurturing parent-child relationships.
- Promote healthy childhood growth and development.
- Enhance family functioning by reducing risk and building protective factors.