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​Family Support Programs


Beginning July 1, 2022, Pennsylvania's Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs, Parenting Support Programs, and Enhancements were consolidated into one grant award contract managed by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). These grant awards are currently awarded for three years (through June 30, 2025) with an option to renew for an additional two for a total of five years (through June 30, 2027).

Those interested in funding opportunities for awards should check the eMarketplace often for application announcements.

Interested parties in future applications can view the most recent historic application.

Family Support Programs​​

Family Support Programs help families access a broad array of supports and services, including formal supports (such as EBHV and parenting classes), informal supports (such as providing resources and connecting families to services in the communities), and a community system of services that promote the well-being of families and their children.

Such services can take many different forms depending on the strengths and needs of the family, but their overarching goal is to help parents or caregivers enhance skills and resolve problems to promote optimal child development.

Pennsylvania's Family Support Programs for Pregnant or Parenting Families of Young Children​ (YouTube)

Evidence-Based Home Visit​​ing

In Pennsylvania there are currently eight federally recognized models that OCDEL supports through a combination of federal and state funding. OCDEL utilizes the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) list of approved models, approved models for OCDEL funding are those with a green checkmark.

EBHV is a prevention and intervention strategy that connects pregnant caregivers and new caregivers with nurses, mental health clinicians, parent educators, and other trained professionals for a diverse array of intensive support services.

For caregivers who opt into these support services, home visitors regularly travel to the caregivers' homes or another natural learning environment to provide the tools, guidance, and support necessary to raise a healthy family.

Since home visiting is a service delivery strategy, individual programs, their goals, and their evidence-base can differ dramatically. These programs vary with respect to the age of the child, eligibility criteria of the family, range of services offered, intensity and frequency of home visits, and content of the curriculum used in the program. Programs should be responsive to the needs of the community they intend to serve.

All home visiting programs are based on the belief that services delivered in a family's natural learning environment will have a positive impact and supporting positive parenting practices can have long-term benefits for child development.

Current Eig​ht Evidence-Based Home Visiting (EBHV) Models

Child​​ First​

Child First helps to heal and protect young children and families from the effects of chronic stress and trauma by fostering strong, nurturing relationships, and connecting families with needed services.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Reductions in Child Maltreatment, Child Development & School Readiness, and Linkages & Referrals.

  • Reduces abuse and neglect, as well as the likelihood of experiencing traumatic events during childhood by utilizing a relationship-based approach to enhance parent-child interactions.
  • Improves children's abilities to interact and connect with others by improving social-emotional functioning, reducing behavioral problems, and increasing language skills.
  • Increases family access and utilization of community-based services by developing a system of care approach to provide comprehensive, integrated services and support.

Eligibility Criteria: Child First serves pregnant women and families with children from birth through age 5 years in which (1) children have emotional, behavioral, or developmental difficulties; or (2) the family faces multiple environmental and psychosocial challenges (which Child First views as social determinants of health) that may lead to negative parent and child outcomes, such as maternal depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, homelessness, or abuse and neglect. Families are served without regard for their legal status or the number of children in the family.

Early Head Start

Early Head Start nurtures healthy attachments for low-income families parenting infants and toddlers, and for pregnant women and their families, through intensive, comprehensive child development and family support services.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Child Development & School Readiness, Child Health, and Positive Parenting Practices.

  • Improves cognitive, social, and emotional development, which enhances children's language skills and school readiness and increases their likelihood of attending preschool or pre-k.
  • Increases childhood immunizations, decreases the prevalence of speech problems, and improves utilization of dental care among disadvantaged youth.
  • Increases family access and utilization of community-based services by developing a system of care approach to provide comprehensive, integrated services and support.

Eligibility Criteria: The Early Head Start–Home-based option serves low-income pregnant women and families with children younger than age 3. To be eligible for services, most families must be at or below the federal poverty level. Early Head Start programs must make at least 10 percent of their enrollment opportunities available to children with disabilities who are eligible for Part C services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in their state. Each individual program is allowed to develop specific program eligibility criteria, aligned with the Head Start Program Performance Standards. 

Family Check-Up

Family Check-Up® supports strategies to better engage parents and parent-centered intervention for reducing problem behaviors in children from toddlers through adolescence.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Child Development & School Readiness, Positive Parenting Practices, and Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence & Crime.

  • Increases children's ability to regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, improves academic achievement and acceptance by peers, and prevents problem behavior from developing into more severe psychological issues.
  • Facilitates positive interactions between caregivers and children by improving parental monitoring and use of positive behavior support, which increases the likelihood of caregivers engaging in proactive parenting rather than coercive parenting.
  • Reduces child abuse and neglect, family conflict, and the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors during adolescence and early adulthood, including involvement with deviant peers and substance use.

Eligibility Criteria: The intended population for this model is families with children who are at risk for conduct problems and academic failure and face familial adversity including socioeconomic disadvantages and maternal depression.

Families with children ages 2 through 17 years old are eligible for Family Check-Up. The federal review only included studies that used home visiting as the primary service delivery method, incorporated the Everyday Parenting curriculum, and focused on families with children ages 2 through 5 years old.

Family Connects

Family Connects strengthens connections for families with newborns by linking them directly to supportive community care resources.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Child Health, Linkages & Referrals, and Reductions in Child Maltreatment.

  • Improves child health outcomes by decreasing the likelihood of emergency medical care use as well as overall utilization of emergency medical care.
  • Increases access and utilization of community resources by assessing family needs and connecting them to corresponding services to improve infant health and well-being.
  • Improves quality of the home environment and decreases the rate of child protective services (CPS) investigations for suspected child maltreatment by engaging families with resources associated with safety.

Eligibility Criteria: The Family Connects model is a universal model in which all parents of newborns in a community are offered a home visit with a nurse within about three weeks of birth.

Healthy Families America

Healthy Families America strengthens families by promoting positive parenting, enhancing child health and development, and preventing child abuse and neglect.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Reductions in Child Maltreatment, Child Development & School Readiness, and Maternal Health.

  • Improves caregiver stress as well as the quality of the home environment, while decreasing family's likelihood of using violence as a form of punishment and having consequent reports with child protective services (CPS).
  • Increases the likelihood of children receiving early developmental screenings, being read to by caregivers, and receiving other activities that support development, which leads to improvements in social-emotional competence and overall mental health.
  • Enhances maternal health outcomes by increasing access and utilization of preventive care services, improving positive affect and problem-solving ability, and increasing rates of breast feeding.

Eligibility Criteria: HFA seeks to engage 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.

The HFA National Office requires that sites enroll families before the child's birth or within three months of the child's birth. After families are enrolled, HFA sites offer them services until the child's third birthday, and preferably until the child's fifth birthday.

Nurse-Family Partnership

Nurse-Family Partnership pairs first-time, low-income pregnant women with nurses to improve pregnancy/birth outcomes, child health and development, and family economic self-sufficiency.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Child Health, Family Economic Self-Sufficiency, and Maternal Health.

  • Lowers the chance of childhood injuries, improves compliance with immunization schedules, and reduces the incidence of preterm births.
  • Improves the employment status and educational attainment of first-time mothers, reduces utilization of public assistance, and teaches mothers how to better plan future pregnancies.
  • Decreases maternal substance use, increases the likelihood of breast feeding, and improves maternal health outcomes.

Eligibility Criteria: NFP is designed for first-time, low-income mothers and their children. Mothers may invite fathers and other family members to participate in home visits. NFP requires a client to be enrolled in the program early in her pregnancy and to receive a first home visit no later than the end of the woman's 28th week of pregnancy. Services are delivered until the child is 2 years old.

Parents as Teachers

Parents as Teachers builds the capacity of parents to understand and support optimal healthy child development, develop effective parenting practices that strengthen the family foundation, and promotes school readiness.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Child Development & School Readiness, Positive Parenting Practices, and Reductions in Child Maltreatment.

  • Improves children's academic achievement, mental health, and language skills, while lowering developmental dysfunction in the form of problem behavior.
  • Improves overall family functioning by improving parenting skills, knowledge about child development, and maternal ability to understand and respond appropriately to their children's behavioral signals.
  • Lowers the rate of substantiated abuse and neglect reports among at risk families as well as prevents child maltreatment by moderating caregiver depression.

Eligibility Criteria: The Parents as Teachers model serves families with high-needs characteristics. Parents as Teachers affiliates select the specific characteristics and eligibility criteria of the population they plan to serve. Such eligibility criteria might include children with special needs, families at risk for child abuse, low-income families, teen parents, first-time parents, immigrant families, low-literate families, parents with mental health or substance use issues, or families experiencing homelessness or unstable housing.

The Parents as Teachers model is designed to serve families throughout pregnancy through kindergarten entry. Families can enroll at any point along this continuum. Curriculum materials provide resources to continue services through the kindergarten year if an affiliate chooses to do so.

SafeCare Augmented®

SafeCare Augmented® uses motivational interviewing and other training to focus on three key outcomes that are universally important for families: creating positive relationships between caregivers and their children, ensuring homes are safe to reduce the risk of child injury, and keeping children as healthy as possible.

Research shows this model has the strongest outcomes in Positive Parenting Practices, Reductions in Child Maltreatment, and Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence & Crime.

  • Increases the rate of positive parent-child interactions as well as competency regarding child health by improving parent ability to respond appropriately to illnesses.
  • Improves safety in the home by teaching caregivers about hazard removal and increasing family likelihood of participating in child abuse prevention services.
  • Reduces the frequency of child welfare reports related to domestic violence in addition to lowering the rate of intimate partner victimization.

Eligibility Criteria: SafeCare serves families with young children from birth through age 5 years. The model is designed to benefit families with risk factors for child maltreatment. Populations served include young parents; parents with multiple children; parents with a history of depression, other mental health problems, substance use, or intellectual disabilities; foster parents; parents involved with the child protective system for neglect or physical abuse; parents being reunified with their children; parents recently released from incarceration; and parents with a history of domestic violence or intimate partner violence. The model also serves parents of children with developmental or physical disabilities or mental health, emotional, or behavioral issues. SafeCare is intended to complement the more specialized intervention services these families might be receiving from other agencies. SafeCare has been used with culturally diverse populations.

Current Supports for Fami​lies*

Evidence-Informed Prog​rams ​(EIP)

​​​EIPs are intended to be implemented as secondary service delivery strategies for families enrolled in EBHV or instances in which EBHV does not meet families' needs. EIPs use the best available research and practice knowledge to guide program design and implementation. This informed practice allows for innovation while incorporating the lessons learned from the e​​xisting research literature. Ideally, evidence-based, and evidence-informed programs and practices should be responsive to families' cultural backgrounds, community values, and individual preferences.

Since each Family Support provider community's needs are different, not all services are available in every county. However, EIP services may include:

Current Allowable En​hancem​​ents*

EBHV Model Enhanceme​​nts

An EBHV Model Enhancement is a variation to better meet the needs of at-risk communities or certain eligible families that does not alter the EBH​​V Model's core components, as defined by the Model. EBHV Model Enhancements may or may not have been developed by the national Model developer, and Enhancements may or may not have been tested with rigorous impact research. Prior to implementation, the Model developer must determine that the Model Enhancement does not alter the core components related to program impacts, and OCDEL must determine it to be aligned with program activities and expectations.

Program Enhancements​

Program Enhancements are ​an addition to the support offered to enrolled families beyond that required of the chosen EBHV Model(s) or EIP Model(s).

Examples of current program enhancements are:

  • Behavioral / Mental Health Consultant(s);
  • Community Service Coordinator(s);
  • Lactation Consultant(s);
  • School Liasson(s);
  • Peer Specialist(s); or
  • Doula(s).

* While current state and federal funds allows for these supports and enhancements to be funded, please view future funding requirements in the released Application at that time to ensure that any EIP or Enhancements listed are eligible for funding.​