County will continue parenting, early childhood home visiting program

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved the continuation of the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting program, with the approval of an agreement with the state March 3.

In Dec. 2012, the county board approved the initial grant from the Minnesota Department of Health. That grant ends March 31, but the Minnesota Department of Health notified the county that it would extend the grant by 10 months. The opportunity to continue with this funding source for another 10 months will result in continuing services to families already enrolled in the program, and an opportunity to serve additional families.

The program uses public health nurses to serve significantly stressed, first-time families through the Healthy Families America (HFA) model. The interventions are specifically proven to impact and improve outcomes around parent/child attachment; healthy births; early learning and school readiness; and child development. The grant continues to target clients who are pregnant or parenting for the first time and face risks such as low incomes; teens; have not completed high school; have mental health challenges; and have a history of substance abuse or need substance abuse treatment. Typically, the county provides services to roughly 85 families at any one time.

The initial grant supported the expansion of the HFA evidence-based home visiting program. During the past two years, the home visiting expansion has been successful, and with the expanded grant funding, served more than 50 additional families.

In addition, the county has been a part of pursuing accreditation in the evidence-based home visiting model. The HFA accreditation is expected to be final in June. 

Program expansion and long-term service delivery to families relies on time and funding. It takes both to hire and train staff, build caseloads, and develop relationships with families that impact long-term outcomes.


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