Comprehensive Home Visiting Program


Every child beginning at birth will be healthy, nurtured, safe and successful.
(Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners System Plan, 2009 - developed in part with MCH Early Childhood Comprehensive System grant funds and adopted by the Governor's Council on Early Care and Education.)

DPH Philosophy

Comprehensive home visiting is a strategy to improve family functioning to promote child health, safety, and development, and prevent child abuse and neglect. The primary responsibility for the development and well-being of children lies within the family. The cornerstone of a healthy society is to assure that all families have access to the supportive services they want and need.

Key DHS lessons learned over the past 10 years of home visiting program monitoring

  • Services to families must be embedded in a system with strong incentives for collaboration
    • Public health, faith-based community, adult education, Prenatal Care Coordination, WIC Nutrition Program, UW-Extension, Family Resource Center, teen parenting programs, schools, law enforcement, parent education programs, Respite, child protection and family support groups
  • Important to match program outcomes to what the family desires to achieve
  • Home visitor skills training is critical for program success
  • Prenatal care is an integral component of home visiting programming because of the potential for primary prevention

Effective Home Visiting Programs

  • Link intended program outcomes to program services that reflect a theory of change
  • Outreach to families with the identified characteristics that match the expected outcomes of the program's interventions
  • Provide services for an extended period of time for sufficient opportunities to increase parent knowledge that sustain their skills in assisting children growing healthy and safe
  • Employ competent, well-trained home visitors
  • Institute policies that require high-quality supervision of home visitors and program services
  • Link families to other community resources and supports
  • Contain a strong method of evaluation and practices continuous program improvement based on the findings
  • Are nested in a continuum of high-quality programs providing early interventions

Resources for Wisconsin Home Visiting Programs

For applications and other detailed information about Wisconsin's response to the federal home visiting grant in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Health Care Reform Act), visit the website hosted by the Department of Children and Families: Home Visiting Needs Assessment.

For information about Wisconsin home visiting programs, specialized training, and other resources, visit the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

For information about National Model Programs that are currently operating in Wisconsin:

Annotated Home Visiting Publications:

Embedding Home Visitation Programs within a System of Early Childhood Services

Daro, D. Embedding Home Visitation Programs within a System of Early Childhood Services. Chapin Hall Issue Brief, University of Chicago, September 2009.

One of the Chapin Hall issue brief papers to support policy research that benefits children, families and communities, Deborah Dare highlights the importance of implementing the federal home visiting programs within the system of early childhood services. States can use this funding as an opportunity to focus on innovative ways to establish key program components of a continuum of early intervention and utilize continuous quality improvement to assure quality. Embedding Home Visitation Services within a System of Early Childhood Services (PDF, 302 KB)

The Role of Home-Visiting Programs in Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Howard, K. and Brooks-Gunn, J. The Role of Home-Visiting Programs in Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect in Preventing Child Maltreatment, The Future of Children, Vol. 19, No. 2, Fall 2009.

Kimberly Howard and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn in the Future of Children publication, Preventing Child Maltreatment, look at evaluations of nine national and international home visiting programs. They examined the programs' outcomes related to parenting and child wellbeing. Overall, the authors found little evidence that home visiting programs directly prevent child maltreatment. However, positive outcomes for the programs were found in areas of maternal parenting practices, quality of the home environment, and child development. Journal Details

Strengthening Programs through State Leadership

Johnson, K. State-based Home Visiting: Strengthening Programs through State Leadership, National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, February 2009.

Kay Johnson, with the support of the National Center for Children in Poverty, reviewed state-based home visiting programs in all 46 respondent states. As home visiting has increasingly been a strategy to improve pregnancy outcomes, parenting skills, and child health and development, the intent of the study was to inform the decisions of national and state leaders about home visiting programs to assure cost effectiveness and quality. State-based Home Visiting Strengthening Programs Through State Leadership.

Enduring Effects of Prenatal and Infancy Home Visiting

Olds, D., Kitzman, H. et al. Enduring Effects of Prenatal and Infancy Home Visiting by Nurses on Maternal Life Course and Government Spending, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 164, No. 5, May 2010.

David Olds and Harriet Kitzman and their collaborators reviewed the results of a randomized controlled trial among children at least 12 years of age whose families had received Nurse-Family Partnership home visiting services in Memphis, Tennessee. Findings showed the program improved maternal life course and reduced government spending among children through age 12 years. Content Abstract

The Case for Home Visiting

The Case for Home Visiting. Pew Center on the States Issue Brief, May 2010.

The Pew Center partners with policy makers and advocates to promote smart investments in quality, voluntary home visiting programs. This Pew Center on the States Issue Brief highlights the effects quality home visiting programs have on improving maternal and child life course for expectant and new families. Pew Center on the States Issue Brief


Wisconsin First Step
Information and links to services for children and youth with special needs, their families and providers. Call (800) 642-7837 to speak with a parent specialist. Information is available on services such as Birth to 3/early intervention, financial assistance, parent networking and support, home health care, therapy services, CYSHCN Regional Centers and more.

Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Hotline
Information and links to services for pregnant and postpartum women and children. Call (800) 722-2295 for information on BadgerCare Plus, WIC, HealthCheck, maternal depression, Prenatal Care Coordination, family planning, developmental screenings, and more.

Last Revised: July 23, 2015