Healthy Families America Home Visiting (Baltimore County FY17 and Beyond - Annual)

Story Behind the Curve

Baltimore County is experiencing a rising trend line for the rate of unduplicated children with indicated*/unsubstantiated* child abuse/neglect findings over the past 4 years.  The County rate from 2015 through 2018 ranged from a low of 5.4 in 2015 to a high of 6.4 in 2017. The 2018 rate was 5.7 and represents 1,322 indicated and unsubstantiated findings for completed Child Protective Service investigations.

 

*Indicated Cases of Maltreatment:  Child Protective Services investigation of a report of child maltreatment where the finding concludes that there is credible evidence, which has not been satisfactorily refuted, that child abuse did occur.

 

*Unsubstantiated Cases of Maltreatment:  Child Protective Services investigation of a report of child maltreatment where the finding concludes that there is an insufficient amount of evidence to support a finding of “Indicated” or “Ruled Out*.”

 

*Ruled Out Cases of Maltreatment:  Child Protective Services investigation of a report of child maltreatment where the finding concludes that child abuse did not occur.

 

The term “intergenerational transmission of child abuse and neglect” refers to the theory that parents who were abused as children have a greater tendency to abuse their own children. For a variety of reasons related to research methodology, the evidence supporting the theory of an intergenerational transfer of child abuse and neglect remains a work in progress. However, several strong studies have identified factors supporting intergenerational patterns of maltreatment including maternal substance use, depression, anxiety, and experiences of victimization, as well as parents’ experience of intimate partner violence and history of mental illness (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016).  All of these factors have been identified as, or associated with, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term given to describe traumatic experiences that occur to children and youth under the age of 18.  These traumatic experiences include emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect, mother treated violently, household substance abuse, household mental illness, parental separation or divorce, and incarcerated household member.

 

An overarching Goal of the Healthy Families program is to reduce the incidence of child maltreatment in Baltimore County as well as the out-of-home placements occurring as a result of child maltreatment.  The program Objective to attain this goal is to cultivate and strengthen nurturing parent-child relationships.

 

Partners
  • Baltimore County Department of Health
  • Baltimore County Department of Social Services
  • Franklin Square Medical Center
  • Baltimore County Public Schools
Action Plan

One strategy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the prevention of ACEs is to create nurturing parent-child relationships using an early childhood home visitation approach (CDC, 2019). The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) specifically lists Healthy Families America as a home visitation program supporting ACEs prevention while indicating that “Home visitation programs have demonstrated significant reductions in rates of child abuse and neglect and have improved substance use, violence, and parenting outcomes” (JAMA, 2019).

 

Healthy Families is an evidence-based, voluntary home visiting program created by Prevent Child Abuse America. The program is designed to promote positive parenting, enhance child health and development, and prevent child abuse and neglect.  The Healthy Families program has been in operation since 2000, and services are provided to families residing throughout Baltimore County.

 

Program Summary

Healthy Families is a home visiting program that optimizes child health and development by encouraging early prenatal care, promoting the health of mothers before and between pregnancies, reducing unintended pregnancies through education on the benefits of child spacing and referral for family planning services, promoting positive parenting skills and supporting positive parent-child interaction. Services are provided to families prenatally through age two of the target child*.

 

*Target Child: The target child is the child that is initially the focus of the parent-child relationship and who the program intends to serve. 

Target Population

The Target Population for the Healthy Families program is pregnant women and parents facing challenges such as:

  1. single parenthood
  2. low income
  3. childhood history of abuse and other adverse childhood experiences
  4. current or previous issues related to substance abuse, mental health issues, and/or domestic violence.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term given to describe traumatic experiences that occur to children and youth under the age of 18.  These traumatic experiences include emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect, mother treated violently, household substance abuse, household metnal illness, parental separation or divorce, and incarcerated household member.

Governor's Strategic Goal

Reduce the Impact of Incarceration on Children, Families and Communities; Improve Outcomes for Disconnected/Opportunity Youth; and Improve Outcomes for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.

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