Samira Abdulkadir came to the United States 10 years ago, a young bride with a baby boy. She was from Somalia but came to the U.S. by route of Kenya, where she was married. The family settled just outside of Boston, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and Abdulkadir had more children. Her second child, a girl, was born deaf. Then she had a boy, who died after five months in the hospital. Her next child, another girl, was also deaf—like their father.

When this youngest girl was born without hearing, Abdulkadir drifted toward despair. She spoke very little English, she didn’t have any extended family in the area, she was still grieving the loss of her baby, two out of her three surviving children were deaf, and she said her husband couldn’t share much of the responsibility at home because of his own disability.

Home-visiting programs appear in communities all across the country using hundreds of different models. Some, like Healthy Families America, is funded by the federal government. Others are run with state or local dollars. The goal, though, is generally the same. Home-visiting programs serve low-income, vulnerable populations and aim to make an early impact on the long-term health and well-being of both baby and family.

In fact, researchers have found achievement gaps based on race and socioeconomic status are firmly in place by the time children turn 2 years old. Supports offered by home-visiting programs can help families break patterns of slower development that are common for children raised in poverty and increase the self-sufficiency of adults.

Importantly, they can promote positive parenting strategies—like creating a loving and supportive home, reading and discussing stories with children, practicing counting, and engaging in active play. All of these things can help prepare children for kindergarten and beyond.

Read the source article at The Atlantic