Mental Health

Home Visits by Parent Educators are Empowering to Families 

Rebeca Harcharik, Catholic Charities Denver

It is said that parenting is the toughest and most rewarding job that a person can ever have. Some parents receive guidance regarding parenting from family members and friends. Regardless of the amount of parenting guidance that a parent receives, a home visitor who is a parent educator can be an excellent resource to any parent. 

Examples of home visiting programs in the Denver Metro area are: Parents as Teachers, Early Head Start (EHS) and Head Start (HS), Nurse Family Partnership, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), and The Incredible Years. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver is one organization that offers EHS and HS home visiting. 

Let’s explore how home visiting by parent educators supports families.

Home visitors work alongside parents so they can interact and intervene with their children. A home visitor comes prepared with a lesson plan and supplies. Rather than doing the teaching directly, the home visitor and the parent carry out the lesson with the child together. This is very empowering to the parent.

Home visitors bring the learning to the home. This removes multiple potential barriers such as lack of transportation, fear of contagion from COVID-19, and schedule constraints. In some cases, it is easier for the parent to welcome the home visitor into their home than to take the child to an outside location to receive education.

Home visiting can be individualized and contextualized to the language and content of the family. Home visitors can choose lesson plans with topics that are relevant to the family they are serving. Ideally, the home visitor speaks the parent’s preferred language. Home visitors have cultural competency in the populations they serve. This allows them to contextualize lesson plans for their clients.

“[I appreciate] that we can speak in my language so that I can understand. It is helpful that [my home visitor] comes to my home. I enjoy the home visits and how much she has been helping us.”

– Natividad

Home visitors offer lessons from evidence-based curriculum. Lesson plans are researched, vetted, and published. Interventions are backed by evidence of their benefit to child development. Furthermore, home visitors must document and report child progress to the funding agencies of the home visiting program. These measures all build accountability to the efficiency of the interventions that home visitors offer.

Home visiting offers an element of mentorship. Parents can trust their home visitors for parenting advice and guidance.

“I like that I can ask any question and get an answer from an actual mother’s point of view, not just a family member. It’s different. [Family members] are hard on you. You can’t talk to your mom like you talk to a friend. There is no judgment in the conversation. You always have to have a third person. It’s intimate. It’s more intimate than going to hire a counselor or a doctor.”

– Leshauna

Home visitors can provide individualized parenting information and guidance for all the minors of the families they serve. This is possible because home visitors develop relationships with the entire family.

Most home visiting programs are free to parents. This is a significant benefit to families.

In some cases, the support to families can be outside of a home. If a family is experiencing homelessness, the home visitor can meet with the family in a shelter, a library, restaurant, park, or other public place where the family is comfortable to meet. If the parent is experiencing domestic violence, the home visitor can make referrals to support the family. They can also meet in a location where the parent is safe and comfortable. Home visiting is an empowering and memorable experience for parents. For more information on home visiting, visit these websites: 

Parents as Teachers

Early Head Start (EHS) and Head Start (HS) 

Nurse Family Partnership

Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY)

The Incredible Years

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver