PROVIDENCE, RI - The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) has expanded voluntary home visiting services for prenatal women and families with children younger than three as a result of funding through the Affordable Care Act.
"There is strong evidence that high-quality home visiting services during pregnancy and the first years of a child's life have long-lasting benefits for the child's development and for the physical, emotional, and economic well-being of families," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "Rhode Island is fortunate to be able to expand these important services to more families and make this public investment in our future generation."
Studies show that families who receive evidence-based home visiting services have higher rates of breastfeeding, well-baby care, and health insurance coverage. Such programs have also demonstrated improvements in school readiness and achievement for children. In West Warwick, Family Service of RI will provide the Healthy Families America (HFA) program. Blackstone Valley Community Action Program and Federal Hill House will run the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program in Providence. The home visitors in both programs work with a family until the child is three years old and will meet wherever is most comfortable for the family, usually in the home.
HEALTH has also awarded continued funding for First Connections, the backbone of Rhode Island's comprehensive support system for pregnant women and families with young children. First Connections is a short-term home visiting program staffed by nurses, social workers, and community health workers that offers assistance with infant feeding and referrals to community providers, among other services. During the past five years, HEALTH-funded First Connections agencies have provided home visits to more than 17,000 children statewide.
Services for HFA in West Warwick and PAT in Providence are expected to begin in the fall of 2013. First Connections services will be available statewide. To request a home visit now or to refer a pregnant woman or family for home visiting services, call the HEALTH information line at (401) 222-5960 and ask about First Connections or see www.health.ri.gov/find/firstconnectionsproviders for a list of providers. To learn more about home visiting in Rhode Island, see www.health.ri.gov/homevisiting