Home Is Where The Start Is

Every family with a newborn baby deserves comprehensive supports from the prenatal period to preschool. While the birth of a baby should be a joyous event and the first few years of a child’s life should be filled with hope and promise, parents usually find childbirth and child-rearing to be challenging experiences.

They are not experiences that any family should go through alone.

This paper will describe a system of services that supports new families by providing three components: universal prenatal care, postpartum screening, and comprehensive home visiting.

All new families in New York State should receive assistance from a model neutral system of support and services that promotes optimal health, mental health, family functioning and self-sufficiency.

Such a system would serve all pregnant women, infants, and new families (including first-time parents and existing families with new babies). This system of services would include universal contact/screening of all pregnant women and new families; assessments for parent, child and family health, mental health, developmental, social, literacy and other service needs; early intervention and referrals to an array of coordinated supports and services; and home visiting services of varying duration and intensity as needed. In addition, it would reflect a pyramid-type structure (see diagram on page 3) wherein all pregnant women and new mothers/families receive general services, those with identified needs receive more targeted services, and those at high-risk receive very specific, intensive services. Finally, the system would utilize proven practices and, in high-risk or high-need situations, evidence based practices.

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