Home visiting programs have been created to fight child abuse and neglect and help inexperienced parents to develop the necessary child-rearing skills. Such measures are very important, as they help provide care for mothers and their children. Maternal, infant, and early childhood home visits are essential, especially for first-time parents, but there are several problems, including over-ambitiousness, high attrition rates, and difficulties during evaluation.
The proper organization of home visiting programs requires dealing with multiple aspects leading to a necessity to improve the understanding of the subject in the scientific community. Many studies and surveys of new parents and medical personnel were conducted to investigate the nature of problems that limited success in the field (Herkert, 2008). Excessively complexity, over-caring programs, and miscommunication with parents are among the main challenges regarding the issue.
Over-ambitiousness is a major source of problems because when home visiting programs include too many objectives, it makes them much more difficult to implement and evaluate the results. Researchers from the University of Chicago suggest in their article that the effectiveness of home visitation programs can be significantly reduced if they become too complex (Herkert, 2008). The main goal of these programs is to reduce the abuse and maltreatment rate, but often they also include other objectives.
It leads to a situation when medical personnel cannot focus on the primary tasks and instead are required to deal with a wide range of responsibilities. This issue has been shown especially relevant in work with teen parents (Herkert, 2008). The increased number of objectives makes it difficult to measure the effectiveness of a program. It is even more apparent when a curriculum is flexible, and it is often unclear to what extent it is delivered. Keeping home visiting programs focused on their primary goals and avoiding too many secondary objectives might reduce complexity and increase the positive effect.
Attrition cases pose a threat to the success of home visiting programs. A study has shown that the majority of women participating in such programs consider exit before the completion (Holland, Christensen, Shone, Kearney & Kitzman, 2014).
The researchers who studied the problem conducted interviews of mothers and nurses and pointed out the main reasons that made women drop out. Many mothers reported that they decided to exit the program because they were occupied with other responsibilities and could not organize the interaction with the nurses properly (Holland et al., 2014). Disbelief in the value of the programs and dissatisfaction with nurses were also among popular reasons to quit. At the same time, nurses reported poor organizational and social skills of some mothers that made effective collaboration difficult (Holland et al., 2014). Thus, home visiting programs fail to interest new mothers who are often unprepared to deal with multiple new situations.
Sometimes extensive programs can be overwhelming for parents leading to a mother’s weariness. A study of obesity prevention programs for low-income families has shown that parents are informed about the health of their children and ways to avoid obesity. It also suggests that the effect sometimes is limited by the way these programs are implemented (Salvy, de la Haye, Galama & Goran, 2016). It shows that to minimize attrition, programs for collaboration between mothers and nurses need to be created, taking into account the mental and physical workload of new mothers.
Home visiting programs are aimed to protect children and help young parents to improve their ability to raise society, physically and emotionally healthy children. They play an important role in preventing child abuse and educating mothers about the health of their children. These programs are proven to have a significant positive effect. However, the flaws that have been found in their implementation and challenges associated with them require further improvements to maximize the quality of care.
Herkert, M. (2008). Strengths and limitations of home visiting to prevent child maltreatment by teen parents. Web.
Holland, M., Christensen, J., Shone, L., Kearney, M., & Kitzman, H. (2014). Women’s reasons for attrition from a nurse home visiting program. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 43(1), 61-70. Web.
Salvy, S., de la Haye, K., Galama, T., & Goran, M. (2016). Home visitation programs: An untapped opportunity for the delivery of early childhood obesity prevention. Obesity Reviews, 18(2), 149-163. Web.