NV Home Visiting Program for at-risk families expanding

Listen to the story

NV Home Visiting Program for at-risk families expanding

Nevada is expanding its home visiting program for at-risk families with young children.

In northern Nevada, the state's home visiting program sends nurses and social workers to visit families with significant risk factors , such as low-income, unmarried status, and language barriers.

Beth Handler is with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. She says a recent $1.8 million grant from the Affordable Care Act will allow the program to expand, enrolling more families and reaching rural counties like Elko, Lyon, and Storey.

"This funding is truly for Nevada's most vulnerable families. These are families are challenged by: poverty, substance abuse, unemployment, mothers that may be having postpartum depression, family members that may or may not behaving mental health issues."

The program is in its infancy and has done 600 home visits so far for about 100 families. The expansion will allow them to help about 200 additional families in the next year.

Handler says despite being able to reach these parents online or by phone, actually going to their homes is ideal in order to talk about prenatal care and school readiness, screen for domestic violence, provide immunizations, and navigate Medicaid enrollment.

"Home visits in this context are effective because they're intensive. Going into somebody's home and going on a regular basis according to a prescribed, approved curricula provides a more effective opportunity to make some change, to make some observations you may not be able to see online."

Handler says there is great demand for this expansion as all of the home visiting programs across the state currently have waiting lists.