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“Why Home Visitors Make Me Swoon”

Check out this new post by volunteer writer Becky Karush in the “Learn to Grow” column in The Hub on SentinelSource.com. It’s all about home visiting services and a new alliance of home visiting programs in the Monadnock Region.

Why home visitors make me swoon

I learned in January about a fascinating and encouraging partnership. Four Monadnock area organizations have joined together to create the Monadnock Home Visiting Alliance (MHVA): The Grapevine; Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services; Rise … for baby and family and The River Center.

The MHVA is a new initiative of the Monadnock United Way/Impact Monadnock. The vision is to support at-risk families with children prenatal to age 5, by expanding and strengthening best practice home visiting programs in the Monadnock Region. In March, they will begin a Community of Practice, a forum for collaboration, dialogue, problem solving and support among home visiting professionals in the region.

Now, I basically fangirl over home visitors when I meet them because I love their work so much, but it’s not a term or a job as familiar as, say, plumber or principal.

Here’s why home visitors are my favorite celebrities: Early childhood home visitors are trained professionals who support families with children.

As their name suggests, these folks meet with families in the home. Sometimes health providers or teachers refer families to home visiting services. Parents and caregivers can also contact the organizations to connect with a home visitor.

Their services are often free or inexpensive — and they cover a wide range of needs.

An isolated, young mom struggling with postpartum depression? The home visitor might help her get a mental health screening and connect with a health provider.

Or say there’s a teen dad who doesn’t know what to do with his son’s behavior besides yell. The home visitor might provide or find parent education or help the dad join a developmental playgroup to learn positive parenting techniques.

Or if a new baby or young child is underweight or at risk for being undernourished, the home visitor could help a family learn about infant and child nutrition, assist them in getting financial support to buy healthy foods, teach or find a class on cooking skills, and help arrange transportation to classes or appointments.

Or if caregiver needs help to cope with or recover from addiction … or if a mom needs help learning to breastfeed … or if a child has medically complex needs … or if a family needs help healing after a traumatic event … or if a parent needs help building life skills so that the days are safe and healthy for child and adult alike …

Home visitors can help.

Research has proven the power of home visiting. As the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports, high-quality home visiting programs result in reduced child abuse and neglect, fewer preterm births and low-birthweight babies, better school readiness for children, and higher high school graduation rates for teen moms.

These positive outcomes also mean that home visiting saves money. The NCSL writes, “Cost-benefit analyses show that high quality home visiting programs offer returns on investment ranging from $1.75 to $5.70 for every dollar spent.”

Why? Because communities that invest in home visiting consequently spend less on child protective services, special education services, and criminal justice expenses.

Can you see now why I get giggly and fawning around home visitors? That’s a lot to love!

To learn more about MHVA, contact Impact Monadnock at im@muw.org. Area home visiting organizations include The Grapevine; Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services; Monadnock Developmental Services; Rise … for baby and family; and The River Center. Contact each to learn about specific home visiting services.

Becky Karush runs BeckyK Creative Marketing, specializing in copywriting for business and nonprofits to achieve social change. Find her at www.beckykcreative.com

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