Home-Visiting Program Shows Benefits for Young Justice-Involved Mothers

Posted July 13, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Young mother and her baby

Par­ent­ing is hard. Par­ent­ing while involved in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem adds an extra lay­er of uncer­tain­ty, tur­moil and dif­fi­cul­ty that is often overwhelming.

Yet, home-vis­it­ing pro­grams for jus­tice-involved moth­ers can have a pos­i­tive and last­ing impact on both new par­ents and their kids, accord­ing to research fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Tufts Uni­ver­si­ty study, described in the research brief Home Vis­it­ing for Sys­tem Involved Young Moth­ers” is linked to a larg­er effort to adapt an evi­dence-based home-vis­it­ing mod­el for young par­ents — a mod­el called Healthy Fam­i­lies Mass­a­chu­setts — to address the spe­cif­ic needs of jus­tice-involved mothers.

The study exam­ined a small group of moth­ers who were under the age of 21 and involved in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem in Mass­a­chu­setts. Researchers ana­lyzed home vis­i­tor records and cir­cled back to par­tic­i­pants six years on. They found that home vis­i­tors had pro­vid­ed a wide range of ser­vices, includ­ing emo­tion­al sup­port, hands-on sup­port and guid­ance nav­i­gat­ing both com­plex rela­tion­ships and the ear­ly years of par­ent­ing. They also not­ed that the more inten­sive the sup­port, the more like­ly the young moth­ers were to progress toward their goals.

The longer-term find­ings were also promis­ing: Sys­tem-involved moth­ers who were ran­dom­ly assigned to the Healthy Fam­i­lies Mass­a­chu­setts pro­gram were more like­ly to be employed com­pared to their con­trol group coun­ter­parts. Equal­ly impor­tant: Moth­ers in the pro­gram report­ed hav­ing ade­quate resources and high­er per­son­al mas­tery when com­pared to their con­trol group peers.

We hope this study will help pro­vide direc­tion for states and cities across the coun­try who are inter­est­ed in using a home-vis­it­ing pro­gram to tar­get this vul­ner­a­ble and often dif­fi­cult-to-reach pop­u­la­tion,” says Ilene Berman, a senior asso­ciate in the Foundation’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group.

Learn more about promis­ing approach­es for young parents

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