The Evidence Portal

Home visits

Flexible activity

The activity of home visits is where a program is substantially delivered through the service provider visiting the family in their home.

How can it be implemented?

During these home visits, the home visitor builds a relationship with the family, and curriculum content is delivered through activities and conversation. The home visitor also monitors the child in their home environment, and may carry out risk assessments of the home, including observation of hazards, parental behaviour, etc. The number of visits varies by program, as does the time over which the visits occur, from 10 weeks to three years.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with several different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • First time mothers who are vulnerable, for example young mothers, single mothers, and families of low socioeconomic status
  • Aboriginal mothers in Central Australia
  • Families at risk using indicators such as education level, single parenthood, employment, history of abuse or neglect, potential for violence, and a history of mental illness, criminality, and drug abuse
  • Families assessed as being likely to benefit from a prevention service
  • African American mothers who have not accessed adequate prenatal care
  • Families with prior contact with child welfare services, or who have been reported for alleged child abuse or neglect

What programs conduct this activity?

  • Nurse-Family Partnership: Weekly visits begin while the mother is pregnant and continue each week until the baby is 6 weeks old, then less frequently until the child is 2 years old.
  • Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program: The program is delivered through home visits. Aboriginal community workers act as cultural brokers and advisors for Program Managers, Nurse Home Visitors and clients. The program also has an open referral pathway, and is not restricted to first-time mothers.
  • Early Start: Regular home visits over 36 months for preschool age children. An initial needs assessment is conducted through four weekly visits, to determine the subsequent level of intervention.
  • Right@Home: 25 nurse home visits, from pregnancy through to when the child is 2 years old. Visits become less frequent over time.
  • Parents as Teachers (PAT): The program is delivered through home visits. The program runs for up to 3 years if a child is enrolled at birth.
  • Pride in Parenting: Participants receive visits from the home visitor for 1 year. Visits occur weekly from birth through 4 months and biweekly from 5 to 12 months.
  • Healthy Steps for Young Children: Up to 6 home visits in the first 3 years.
  • SafeCare: This is an 18 to 24-week program comprised of three modules; each module is typically offered in parents’ homes over six sessions.
  • SafeCare+: An 18 to 24-week program comprised of three modules; each module is typically offered in parents’ homes over six sessions. SafeCare+ includes the addition of motivational interviewing and training home visitors on identification and response to imminent child maltreatment and various risk factors.
  • SafeCare Dad2K: An 18 to 24-week program specifically for fathers, comprised of three modules; each module is typically offered in parents’ homes over six sessions.
  • Promoting First Relationships: Weekly home visits for ten weeks.

What else should I consider?

The background, experience and level of training of the home visit staff is important. Home visitors have different levels of training and skills, and might be peer community members, nurses or social workers. Others involved in the programs include:

  • family support workers with nursing or social work qualifications
  • trained parent educators
  • community-based service providers with master’s degrees in social work or counselling
  • community-based home visitors receiving training and direct supervision from the module’s educator
  • public health workers.

Further resources

Last updated:

24 Feb 2023

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