Studer Community Institute

In-home visits enhance brain development in babies

When it comes to early learning and building babies’ brains, there’s no place like home.

Education experts are adamant in the belief that the home is a child’s first school and parents are the first teachers. These relationships are the foundation of the approach to promoting child development through home visits.

The visiting professional builds a relationship with the primary caregiver and other family members, helping them understand infant and toddler development and behavior and helping the family through any special challenges their child presents.

Home visiting programs help parents provide safe and supportive environments for their children. When families are fully engaged and complete the programs, home visits build strong relationships that can lead to long-term and lasting benefits for the children and their families.

The key is providing parents with the information, support and encouragement needed for their child to reach his or her optimal development stage during the crucial early years of life.

What if the most important adults in a child’s life were on the same page, working together toward the child’s success?

That’s the goal of Studer Community Institute’s efforts in working with local agencies that offer in-home services to parents with children under 4 years old.

Infant/toddler developmental specialists at Pearl Nelson Center, service coordinators at Early Steps and Healthy Start nurses regularly make home visits to build relationships, skills and engagement for families and young children.

Using SCI Brain Bag literacy tool kits and talking points from the Thirty Million Words Initiative, the providers will enhance strategies used to build babies’ brains, including the three T”s: tune in, take turns and talk to.

They will began delivering the additional message to the families they reach through individual, one-on-one coaching.

This means the Brain Bags will spread from the three area hospitals to more than 330 additional families who already have children under age 4.

The benefit of home-visiting programs is that the service is brought to at-risk, disadvantaged families in their own homes.

A home visit by a trained professional has the propensity to increase their sense of control and comfort, allowing them to get the most benefit from services offered. Also offering the programs in the home environment allows home visitors to provide a more tailored approach to service delivered.

Research shows home visiting works, improving health and saving money for taxpayers, with tangible results like better birth outcomes, improved child health outcomes, better educational attainment for moms and improved school readiness.

In terms of school readiness and achievement, children whose families participate in home visiting programs scored 25 percent higher on first- through third-grade reading and math achievement tests, according to an NEA survey.

Home visits can be an effective way of providing family support and child development services.

Early childhood home visiting has been shown to be an effective service delivery model for at-risk young children and their families.

Home visiting programs promote positive parenting practices that help parents better prepare their children for school.

Parents enrolled in home visiting programs are more likely to have a safe play environment at home, provide age-appropriate books, and engage children in structured teaching activities.

Home visiting programs provide structured visits by trained professionals and paraprofessionals to high-risk parents who are pregnant or have young children.

These programs support families by providing health check-ups, screenings, referrals, parenting advice, and guidance with navigating other programs and services in their community. The programs also monitor progress on children’s developmental milestones.

Obviously, home visiting is not a single clearly defined method of providing service to children and families. In-home visiting programs offer an array of activities and services with the hope of ensuring that at-risk families have social support, access to public and private community services and ongoing health, developmental and educational programs.

Providing professionals who make home visits the tools and skills to assist at-risk parents is another important step in helping young children reach developmental milestones. It brings us another step closer to achieving the goal of becoming America’s First Early Learning City.