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Nurse home visiting program reduces child maltreatment and emergency care usage

Newly published results from a randomized clinical trial find that participation in a postpartum nurse home visiting program reduces child maltreatment investigations and child emergency medical care usage each by one-third by age five. For 18 months beginning in July 2009, all children born in Durham County, North Carolina were randomly assigned to participate in the Family Connects program (2,327 children) or to receive treatment as usual (2,440 children). Program participation included 1-3 visits in children’s first month of life to identify family service needs, followed by connection to an “aligned” set of community services specific to their identified needs. Program duration was short, concluding by four weeks postpartum. A subset of 531 families were selected for evaluation purposes at five years out, with outcomes determined via state administrative child welfare records and hospital billing data. The reduction in child maltreatment investigations and child emergency medical care usage persisted across all study subgroups, regardless of presence of infant medical risks at birth, insurance status, single parent household status, parent race ethnicity, birthweight, and child sex. The authors conclude that the high-quality delivery and broad reach drove effectiveness, while the brevity of the program supports its efficiency and replicability. #childwelfare #health