The Healthy Families America Strategy
Healthy Families America (HFA) is the signature program of Prevent Child Abuse America. Our National Office, located in Chicago, Illinois, provides support, technical assistance, training, affiliation and accreditation to over 580 affiliated sites across 38 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and in Canada.
HFA is theoretically rooted in the belief that early, nurturing relationships are the foundation for life-long, healthy development. Interactions between direct service providers and families are relationship-based, designed to promote positive parent-child relationships and healthy attachment, strength-based, family centered, culturally sensitive and reflective.
HFA is designed for parents facing challenges such as single parenthood; low income; childhood history of abuse and other adverse child experiences; and current or previous issues related to substance abuse, mental health issues, and/or domestic violence.
Individual HFA sites select the specific characteristics of families they plan to serve and collaborate with community partners to reach these families. All families complete a Parent Survey or similar assessment in order to determine the presence of various factors associated with increased risk for child maltreatment or other adverse childhood experiences, as well as identify family strengths and protective factors.
Families are enrolled prenatally or within three months of birth. Once enrolled, sites offer services to families until the child’s third birthday, and preferably until the child’s fifth birthday.
HFA sites offer at least one home visit per week for the first six months after the child’s birth. After those initial months, visit frequency is based on families’ needs and progress over time. Typically, home visits last one hour.
- screenings and assessments to determine families at risk for child maltreatment or other adverse childhood experiences;
- home visiting services; and
- routine screening for child development and maternal depression.
In addition, many HFA sites offer services such as parent support groups and father involvement programs. HFA encourages local sites to implement enhanced services that further address the specific needs of their communities and the families they serve.
Training requirements for HFA staff assure a knowledgeable and well-informed workforce with a focus on continual professional development. Core training includes trauma-informed practice, key parent-child attachment principles and how to support parents in implementing these, as well as reflective strategies that support parents in feeling competent and empowered to make positive changes in their lives. HFA offers wraparound distance learning training that includes access to fourteen modules available to staff once the site is affiliated with HFA.
HFA aims to
- reduce child maltreatment;
- improve parent-child interactions and children’s social-emotional well-being;
- increase school readiness;
- promote child physical health and development;
- promote positive parenting;
- promote family self-sufficiency;
- increase access to primary care medical services and community services; and
- decrease child injuries and emergency department use.