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The benefits of home visiting

This article describes the long-term effects of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program on children’s criminal and antisocial behaviour when the participating children are 15 years of age.

The article describes the results of a study known as a randomised controlled trial, in which 400 pregnant teenage women were allocated randomly (similar to tossing a coin) to receive either the NFP program or standard care, so that the outcomes could later be compared across the two groups. A total of 315 of these families were still available for follow-up 15 years later, and the following outcomes were compared for children who received NFP with those who received standard services - children’s self-reports of running away, arrests, convictions, being sentenced to youth correction, initiation of sexual intercourse, number of sex partners, and use of illegal substances, school records of suspensions, teachers’ reports of children’s disruptive behaviour in school and parents’ reports of the children’s arrests and behavioural problems related to the children’s use of alcohol and other drugs.

The results of this study show that 15-year-old children in the NFP group were significantly less likely to run away, be arrested, or receive convictions and violations of probation. They had significantly fewer lifetime sex partners, fewer cigarettes smoked per day, and fewer days having consumed alcohol in the last six months. Parents of nurse-visited children reported that their children had fewer behavioural problems related to use of alcohol and other drugs.

In 2012 the Washington State Institute for Public Policy estimated the long-term cost benefits per participant of the Nurse-Family Partnership to be around $23,000 per participant.

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Babies in Mind: Why the Parent's Mind Matters

The University of Warwick

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