Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Home Visitation in the National Spotlight

Children's gifts distributed to Dallas HIPPY family (mom in red, remainder is Dallas and Texas HIPPY staff)

The buzz has been growing about Home Visitation with lots of things happening at the national and state levels. At the national level, home visiting was included in the controversial Health Care Reform Bill. Every state has until the end of September to conduct an assessment on the need for home visitation programming. A statewide coalition has been formed in Texas, under the leadership of the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition. Our first act as a coalition has been to offer our support to the state as they engage in the required assessment. We are hopeful that if funding comes in from the healthcare funding, it will allow us to expand much needed services within the communities already served, and to open new communities to home visiting services. It's interesting to be discussing the basic concepts of home visiting now, in my 22nd year in the field! For example, is home visiting a program model or a methodology? Can it be effective as a stand alone activity or does it need to be embedded into an overall strategy?

Texas HIPPY program coordinators would tell you that once you enter a family home, even though you may be there for educational purposes, all sorts of social, psychological and financial hardships are revealed, and program staff must be well versed in community resources and how to refer families to receive help. All of our programs have developed a strong network of partnerships that help families who are faced with a myriad of problems, including developmental disabilities in children; lack of basic resources such as utilities and food; and family crisis issues such as violence, depression and legal problems.

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