Home visiting programs have long been recognized as a vital support system for families facing challenges such as homelessness, poverty, drug abuse, and maternal depression. At-risk families are paired with a dedicated home visitor or a home visiting team that connects them to needed services, helps them learn how better to nurture their children, and provides therapy to help them overcome their trauma — all from the ease of home.

But since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines have presented the home visiting field with a new challenge: How do you serve families when you can no longer visit them at home? Early into the crisis, a national survey of home visiting programs showed that nearly nine out of ten of them were required to stop in-person home visits. With such practices paused for the foreseeable future, many programs have turned to telehealth technology — using phones or videoconferencing to provide treatment.

One such program is Child First, a comprehensive, therapeutic home visiting program that serves vulnerable children and families in a coordinated system of care. MDRC is conducting a randomized controlled trial in an effort to replicate findings from an earlier study that found that Child First improved children’s language and social-emotional skills, reduced caregivers’ depressive symptoms, and decreased families’ involvement in the child welfare system.

Read the full article about conducting home visits without visiting homes by Mervett Hefyan at MDRC.