Home Visiting Poised to Meet Demographic Realities

Richard Chase, Senior Research Manager at Wilder Research, explains the importance of home visiting for Minnesota's most vulnerable children.

Richard Chase 
Reprinted from the United Front blog on November 1, 2012

 

Most of us know about basic brain architecture, understand that a healthy start lays the foundation for lifelong well-being, and believe that investing in early childhood yields high future returns. But do we know the facts that support why home visiting is a sensible approach for promoting healthy brain growth and physical development, secure attachment and social-emotional development, a language rich environment, and a positive social or cultural identity?

The youngest children in Minnesota are the state’s poorest and most diverse age group. More than a third are low-income and nearly a third are children of color. The portion of low-income children is even higher in communities of color, reaching as high as about three-quarters for American Indian and African American children. The demographic reality in Minnesota is that half of low-income kids are kids of color.

Most of the 76,000 low-income children age 2 and younger are cared for at home by a parent or grandparent. That is the type of care they prefer and can afford. Nevertheless, too many of these children lack access to early development opportunities. For example, Early Head Start has resources to serve about 2,000 young children. Home visiting in Minnesota reaches about 14,000. The potential adverse consequences for the 60,000 underserved children last a lifetime and affect us all.

For these 60,000 children to achieve overall child health and development, their caregivers must have psychological and physical well-being and the ability to provide responsive and consistent nurturing. Effective home visiting is a sensible approach to achieve this multi-generational goal.

As Minnesota joins other states in increasing policy attention and financial support to develop home visiting strategies, we must be sure those strategies are flexible enough to be inclusive of the growing diversity of families and of all the caregivers for young children in those families.

 

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