Recent research on brain development has found long-term benefits for families when they receive home visits during pregnancy and after the birth of a child.  Benefits include enhanced child health and development, reduced child abuse and neglect, early identification and treatment of developmental delays and health issues, improved pregnancy outcomes, improved self-sufficiency of the family, improved school readiness and better parenting. 

 It’s no wonder that grant funding under the new healthcare reform law provides $1.5B over the next five years to support evidence-based home visiting programs.  Arizona is expected to receive $1.8M in FY 2010.  Our ADHS team led an interagency group that included ADES, the Department of Education, First Things First, Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona and ADHS Behavioral Health in submitting Arizona’s application for these funds.  As part of the grant requirements, we just finished our  AZ Home Visiting Needs Assessment, which evaluates and ranks Arizona communities based on risk factors identified in the grant and by the inter-agency team.

 Thirty-one communities in AZ were identified to be at the highest level of maternal, infant and social risk.  While Arizona currently has many home visiting programs, this funding will support better coordination and we’ll be able to implement new evidence based programs in communities with the highest need.  The next great hurdle for the team will be matching the evidence based home visiting models to the needs of the highest risk communities.  Congratulations to the Home Visiting team on developing such an objective way of ranking community need in Arizona and on the submission of such an excellent Home Visiting needs assessment.