HFA embodies an infant mental health approach, with the belief that early, nurturing relationships are the foundation for life-long, healthy development. This approach impacts:
Impacts on Children
Parents’ self-reports provide a powerful measure of child maltreatment; several rigorous studies show reductions in harsh parenting, neglect, physical abuse, and psychological abuse measured from one to seven years and increased use of non-violent discipline.
HFA improves birth outcomes, including low birth weight, a problem with tremendous public and personal costs. When moms enroll in HFA before the third trimester, multiple studies report positive impacts on birth weight, and fewer birth complications.
Healthy Families America nurtures child development, including long-term improvements in children’s school performance, and prevents adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as child abuse and neglect.
Impacts on Parents & Families
HFA helps parents develop more positive beliefs about their role as parents. Compared to control families, HFA parents:
- showed stronger parenting efficacy
- had reduced parenting stress levels
- had more positive perspectives on their parenting roles and responsibilities
It takes time for parents to become acquainted with their new baby. Responsiveness and communication are the building blocks of attachment, which in turn promotes child well-being and protects against child maltreatment. HFA shows significant impacts on parent -child interaction in numerous studies.
HFA increases parents’ understanding of children's developmental milestones and needs and helps parents create a more responsive and developmentally stimulating home environment.
Impacts on the Community
Delaying subsequent pregnancies at least two years helps young families achieve greater financial security. HFA studies show improvements in birth spacing.
HFA shows impacts on academic success, with fewer children retained in first grade or receiving special education services.
In multiple studies, HFA parents show significant gains in their education that can lead to increased family income and tax base.
Healthy Families America has the potential to achieve community-wide benefits, including intermediate system change, cost savings, and long-term impacts on community health.