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.

HFA Vision:
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.

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.


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Call for Proposals for the 2016 National Conference for America's Children


Call for Proposals now open for Sessions at The 2016 National Conference for America's Children

Thank you for your interest in The National Conference for America's Children. Use this link to fill out our survey and submit your proposal. Please be sure to read the below introductory information on the types of sessions that we are seeking for our 2016 conference, taking place at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, OH.

The goal of this conference is to bring together professionals who work across the social ecology to share information, network, and advance the field of child abuse and neglect prevention and the promotion of child and family well-being.

In order to achieve this goal, the conference planning team determined four focus areas on which the content of the conference will be based:

Focus Area One: Direct Service for Children and Families: This focus area will offer workshops on clinical-level prevention services. Possible topics include home visiting, parent education, infant mental health, fatherhood, prenatal engagement, effective prevention strategies and Circle of Parents/parent leadership.

Focus Area Two: Organizational Success: This focus area will offer workshops on the administrative side of prevention and child well-being. Possible topics include staff satisfaction/retention, managing small non-profits, fundraising, team building, self-care/avoiding burnout, accreditation, program evaluation, ethical and professional issues, building community collaborations and strategic planning.

Focus Area Three: Messaging, Communications and Technology: This focus area will offer workshops on how messaging can be used to move communities to action. Possible topics include the language of child abuse prevention, utilizing social media for messaging, apps for families and children, media training, changing social norms and moving communities to social action.

Focus Area Four: Innovations in Prevention- Community and Policy Strategies: This focus area will offer workshops on new and/or innovative work in the prevention field related to the community and policy levels of the social ecology. Possible topics include ACEs, new legislation, child sexual abuse prevention, grassroots community organizing, the Protective Factors Framework, bullying/peer abuse prevention, traumatic brain injury and CAPTA.

While a single proposal may fit in one or two focus areas, our goal is that all workshops presented at the conference pertain to at least one focus area, as well as the following two criteria:

1. Evidence-Based or Evidence-Informed
2. Diversity/Cultural Competence

Kids and Trauma: Science Over Force


Kids and Trauma: Science Over Force 

CHICAGO, IL, November 2, 2015 – The video showing a school police officer subduing an unyielding adolescent with force is yet another reminder that children act out. Sadly, that’s not news. What is news is that there are alternate, appropriate ways to deal with troubled teens that benefit both the child and the community.

There are a host of reasons why a child might misbehave, and while the details of this young woman’s life are rightfully private, her attorney has made a public statement that she is in foster care and that is a sign that her nuclear family has been unable or unavailable to raise her.     

Traumatic childhood experiences are the subject of many studies currently. Findings indicate that these experiences can have both immediate and lifelong effect on social and emotional health. Collectively called “Adverse Childhood Experiences,” or ACEs, these experiences can actually change the chemistry of a child’s brain and can be a cause for dramatic changes in a child’s behavior. 

Prevent Child Abuse America recognizes the profound lessons from the ACE studies and has incorporated the findings into our work at every opportunity. We are particularly proud to be the non-profit partner to the producers of the film Paper Tigers, a documentary showing how the lives of troubled teens are changed when their school adopts a trauma–informed approach. 

The title comes from a story the science teacher shares with the students when discussing the effect of early trauma on their brain after constantly being exposed to real danger or threats, the brain eventually fails to differentiate between “a paper tiger and a real one.” The result can be kids who lash out or otherwise exhibit terribly inappropriate behaviors. 

Trauma-informed schools have moved from asking “what’s wrong with that child?” to “what’s happened to that child?” The school featured in Paper Tigers can be an inspiration and all schools, and communities, can consider taking a similar view to interacting with their students by engaging in the following steps:

(1)  Reminding ourselves that one size does not fit all when it comes to students or behavior;

(2)  Becoming informed about the ACEs, trauma and how they impact child development and behavior;

(3)  Assessing our approach to discipline by asking ourselves whether it is trauma-informed, modeled on what we know about ACEs and based on the simple question, “What’s happened to that child;” and

(4)  Recognizing that this is an issue for not only the schools, but the full community, neighbors, houses of worship and business as well. 

“I want this moment to be heard as a call to action for schools and communities across the nation,” said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America. “Let’s take advantage of this wonderful new resource, bring Paper Tigers to every community and support developing trauma-informed faculty, staff and police officers in every school district! For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Prevent Child Abuse America or visit our website for additional resources related to Paper Tigers.”

Prevent Child Abuse America President & CEO James M. Hmurovich to retire

Prevent Child Abuse America President & CEO James M. Hmurovich to retire

OCTOBER 16, 2015, CHICAGO, IL - Prevent Child Abuse America is formally announcing the retirement of President & CEO James M. Hmurovich. For 10 years, staff and he have worked to deliver on evidence-based strategies to promote healthy child development, supportive services for parents, and the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Hmurovich’s last day has not been identified and will be aligned with the appointment of and transition to a successor, likely in the first quarter of 2016. A national search for his successor is underway, led by the National Board of Directors with the help of Phillips Oppenheim.

“Jim began his role as President & CEO at a time of significant change and transformation in the organization’s history,” said Fred Riley, Board Chair, Prevent Child Abuse America. “He brought a sense of urgency to achieving financial stability and revenue enhancement, while never compromising the organization’s focus on children and families. We are stronger and looking at an even brighter future thanks to Jim’s efforts and leadership.”

During his time at Prevent Child Abuse America, Jim was a member of a national office team that expanded the organization’s home visitation program, Healthy Families America, from 360 sites to over 600, increased the state chapter network from 41 to 50, introduced the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign as a reminder that child abuse and neglect prevention is everyone’s responsibility, oversaw the creation of technical assistance services to the networks on bullying prevention and child sexual abuse prevention, and the development of a national movement, Connect the Dots, for children and families.

As a representative of the organization, he most currently is serving as the Chair of the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Human Services Assembly, as well as the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Jim came to the position of President & CEO as a member of the organization’s national board. Prior to that, he enjoyed a decorated career in state government, serving as a former Deputy Commissioner for the Indiana Department of Correction, as well as the Indiana State Welfare Director, during which time Indiana was awarded seven federal high performance cash bonuses for successes in welfare reform and child welfare. Indiana also received national recognition as a leader in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and for the Healthy Families Program, during Jim’s memberships on those teams. He is also the recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash, which is the highest award that can be given to an Indiana citizen for leadership and accomplishment.

“I am honored to have been trusted with the leadership of such an honorable mission, a team of dedicated and committed staff, a knowledgeable and impressive Board of Directors and two outstanding networks of chapters and Healthy Families America sites respectively," said Hmurovich. "But more than all of that, I am humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve the children and families of this great nation. Every child should have the right to experience a loving, caring and abuse free childhood. At Prevent Child Abuse America we not only believe that, we work every day to accomplish it.” 

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