Home Visitor's Online Handbook

About Home-Based Services

Two toddlers playing with a puzzle gameYour work as a home visitor is likely complex, challenging, and rewarding. Working with families of newborns, you may find they are under considerable stress. Especially in the beginning, parents are lacking sleep, experiencing changes in their relationships, and feeling the complete responsibility of this vulnerable new being. However, it is also a time when parents want to make sure they know what they can do to support the well-being of their child. Families have different resources and stressors, and each brings its own unique culture to this experience.

Families with preschoolers are supporting their children at a time when they are developing new skills across all developmental areas, experiencing a variety of new environments (e.g., a child care program, a preschool program, community recreation programs), and expanding their social networks. Families are likely seeking assistance with finding and navigating these new experiences, advocating for their child, and helping their child prepare for current and future experiences.

In the home-based program option, comprehensive services are provided within the family's own home and within the context of the parent-child relationship. The home-based program team may be comprised of the home visitor and staff that is responsible for management and oversight of family services, health services, and services for children with disabilities. The team may also include the program director, service area managers, your home visiting supervisor, a mental health consultant, other home visitors, and community partners—all working with you to provide comprehensive services to families. Members of this team may also be responsible for providing ongoing supervision, support, and professional development to home visitors. 

Home-based services offer an opportunity to work with a family in their own environment. You work directly with the parents, the most important people in the world to the child, in the setting that is most familiar and has the most meaning to both the child and the parents. Promoting secure parent-child interactions and school readiness experiences in the home provide a foundation for parents to weave learning moments into the family's daily routines.

Parents are the child's first and primary teachers. The family's and child's goals for their work within the program are rooted in their culture, beliefs, and values. The home environment provides valuable information about how services can be delivered in a culturally responsive manner. As a home visitor, you strive to understand the family and its culture's practices, experiences, and norms. The home environment may offer insights as to how best to support the family in using its strengths to meet its goals.

This work is so significant because of the profound importance of pregnancy, the newborn period, and the first five years of life for the child's lifelong development. Your work also impacts the growth of each family member's skills and abilities to promote that development, and the quality of the parent-child relationship. As evidence continues to demonstrate that early experiences are vital for the healthy development of the brain, we increasingly appreciate the opportunities that Head Start and Early Head Start programs offer families.

We hope you find this to be an engaging, informative, and useful resource to support your truly important work as a home visitor.