Parenting Engagement and Support (Home Visiting and Paid Parental Leave)
A strong body of evidence shows the positive impacts of home visiting on children and their families, including improvements in maternal and child health, child development and parenting practices. Voluntary home visiting is a home-based prevention strategy used to support pregnant mothers and new parents and are most often delivered by trained nurses, social workers or child development specialists.
At least 18 evidence-based home visiting models are in use throughout the country. Models vary in outcome, duration and frequency of visits and intended target population. Some begin in pregnancy; others during the first year of a child’s life. Some last two years, while others last up to age 6 or the start of kindergarten.
States rely on a mix of state and federal funding to support state-administered home visiting programs. The Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting grant is the primary source of federal funding for home visiting. It began in 2010 under the Affordable Care Act and was reauthorized in 2015 under the Medicare Access and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. In February 2018, it was reauthorized for another five years. In addition, states use general funds, tobacco settlement funds, tobacco taxes and philanthropic dollars to pay for home visiting.
Paid Parental Leave
Employee leave benefits often fall into one of four categories—parental, family care, medical and sick—and each can be paid or unpaid. A growing body of research shows the positive outcomes for infants, toddlers and their families who have access to paid parental leave, more commonly referred to as maternity and paternity leave, or time away from employment to care for and bond with a new child at or around the time of childbirth or adopting or fostering a new child.
As of June 2022, 11 states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington—and the District of Columbia have paid family and medical leave in place legislatively or through a ballot initiative. A strong link exists between paid parental leave and positive child development. More specifically, paid time away from work allows for parent-child bonding, increased rate of breastfeeding, improved and timely health care and a decrease in child maltreatment to name a few. Each year, paid leave legislation is introduced in about half of state legislatures.