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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 75,000 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.

HFA Vision:
All children receive nurturing care from their family essential to leading a healthy and productive life.

Mission:
To promote child well-being and prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children through home visiting services.

Core Values:
Valuing Children
Strengthening Families
Engaging Communities

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.



www.healthyfamiliesamerica.org

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Current news

Prevent Child Abuse America and Chartwells K12 Team to Deliver Healthy Meals and Healthy Social Interactions in the Lunchroom

 

Prevent Child Abuse America and Chartwells K12 Team to Deliver Healthy Meals and Healthy Social Interactions in the Lunchroom

Anti-bullying initiative focuses on the prevention of peer abuse and the promotion of positive social development

CHICAGO, IL, December 11 – Prevent Child Abuse America and Chartwells K12 are teaming up to prevent bullying where it often takes place: the lunchroom. The partnership will deliver healthy messages to students alongside the healthy food choices Chartwells serves in 3,800 schools nationwide as part of a peer abuse (commonly known as bullying) prevention campaign. The campaign supports efforts to positively change youth behaviors in light of the more than 70 percent of students who report witnessing bullying on a monthly basis.*

As part of the partnership, Chartwells team members will receive targeted training to help them recognize bullying behavior and appropriately respond. Training for leadership will also be provided regarding the impact of peer abuse in schools.

"We applaud Chartwells' interest in extending beyond nurturing appetites to also encourage change in youth behaviors, and by teaming up with Chartwells, we have the opportunity to do both," said James Hmurovich, President & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. "By including abuse prevention messages with these meals, in addition to working with the food service professionals, we have a real chance to make a positive impact. We're delighted about the possibilities that this partnership with Chartwells presents."

As part of the Chartwells' "eat. learn. live." initiative, the school dining service believes that by providing students with fresh and nutritious meals, it can improve the well-being of the students it serves, build sharp minds and strong bodies, and enrich the lives of students and communities in which they live. Because of its work within school cafés, Chartwells has a unique opportunity to make a difference.

"Our number one priority is to nourish the students, to help them make smart choices about food, and also about living healthy, happy lives," said Rhonna Cass, President of Chartwells. "Our partnership with Prevent Child Abuse America is an important extension of our 'eat. learn. live.' promise and will help Chartwells further its goal to improve the well-being of our students and communities."

Research suggests that training Chartwells staff to create a positive cafeteria climate and support students' social emotional learning skills is associated with increases in pro-social behavior and academic achievement and decreases in student conduct problems and distress. In addition to working together on messaging and training, Chartwells will participate in Prevent Child Abuse America's signature spring campaign, Pinwheels for Prevention®, a national initiative customized for local communities that uses symbolic pinwheels to promote healthy, full lives for children.

"Studies show nearly one in three students in grades 6 through 12 experience bullying," said Hmurovich**. "Chartwells is a natural fit to help us spread the message that all people deserve respect, and we believe it is essential to equip food service professionals with education and training to prevent peer abuse before it ever begins."

 

Prevent Child Abuse America and Home Visiting Coalition push for budget extension of MIECHV

 

Prevent Child Abuse America and Home Visiting Coalition push for budget extension of MIECHV and great beginnings for all children

Coalition to send sign-on letter bearing more than 700 signatures to Congress in support of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program

CHICAGO, IL, December 4 – Prevent Child Abuse America and its partners in the Home Visiting Coalition are writing members of congress today to urge their support in extending funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV supports evidence-based home visiting programs, such as Healthy Families America, that have been shown to improve the early health and development of children and to reduce incidences of child maltreatment.

The coalition, which includes members of state legislatures, faith-based groups, and organizations like the Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Psychological Association, is sending a letter bearing over 700 signatures (including signatures from 29 members of the Prevent Child Abuse America chapter network as well as over 130 HFA sites from 33 states and 4 territories) to each member of the House and the Senate, urging them to reauthorize the MIECHV program at its current annual funding level of $400 million. MIECHV has enjoyed bipartisan support since it was created in 2009, and Congress previously voted in support of continued funding for the program.

"Home visiting programs are pro-family, voluntary, and most importantly, they work," said Jim Hmurovich, President & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. "Democrats and Republicans worked together recently to pass funding for this program, so today we are simply asking them to work together and fund this successful program again."

Prevent Child Abuse America and the leaders of the other national, state, and tribal leaders are pushing for the MIECHV re-authorization to take place either in the upcoming lame duck session or as one of the first acts of the next Congress. Funding for MIECHV is currently set to expire in March 2015, and any failure to reauthorize the program before then would be devastating to the home visiting programs currently serving children and families in all 50 states, 6 territories, and numerous tribal territories.

"Funding from this program is helping hundreds of thousands of families right now, all across the country, helping to deliver children the great childhoods they deserve and give families the chance to be self-sufficient," said Hmurovich. "We know, and the research shows, that MIECHV is good for the country and will save us money down the line. We hope that all of the members of Congress will take the common-sense step to vote to continue funding for this important program."

You can view the letter at this link.

 

Healthier Futures, a National Dialogue, and Adrian Peterson

 

Healthier Futures, a National Dialogue, and Adrian Peterson


CHICAGO, IL, November 18 – At Prevent Child Abuse America we work to create healthier futures for all children. We also seek to create environments that lead to great childhoods. And we strive to create an equal playing field for all children and all families.

We traffic in hope and solutions, thriving children, and a healthier world for all of us to live in. What we do not do is traffic in rage. It doesn't serve the nation's children, their families, or the communities they live in.

But we know there will be rage today directed at the National Football League for suspending Adrian Peterson for the rest of the 2014 season. People will question whether his rights as a parent, and worker, are being undermined. And while we agree that this is an important dialogue, we do not believe it is the most important dialogue we as a nation can be having right now.

While we take no stand on Peterson's case, we appreciate all of the dialogue that has occurred coast-to-coast since his very public case raised the issue of appropriate discipline. What we've learned since the news about Peterson first broke is that despite being a controversial topic, people are very willing to discuss their views on corporal punishment.

While we recognize that all parents have the right to choose the manner in which they discipline their children, we also know that there are more effective methods than corporal punishment, and so what we also hope is that we can have this dialogue with you as well.

When having this dialogue, it's important to stick to what we know. Thanks to research from Dr. Martin Hoffman, we know that alternative forms of discipline like time-outs or loss of privileges are proven to be as, if not more, effective than corporal punishment. Thanks to research from Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff, we also know that not only does corporal punishment fail to make children compliant in the short-term, it also fails to make a long-term difference in the child's behavior, and in fact can lead to life-long, negative health outcomes. At the same time, we recognize that every parent has the right to decide for themselves how to discipline their children, so we encourage everyone to look up this research for themselves, and if you have questions, let us know, because we'll be happy to answer them.

"We hope that all those who've been willing to have this discussion, whether with friends, spouses, family or even strangers," said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America, "will be equally willing to learn more about alternative discipline methods that are proven to be more effective than corporal punishment and are more effective at promoting the kind of moral and obedience education that discipline is meant to teach."

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