Perinatal e-News
Issue 52 | February 25, 2010

Home Visitation
Welcome Baby! pilot launch
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Dear friends,

LA Best Babies Network congratulates MCH Access on its rollout of the Welcome Baby! universal home visitation pilot program and is proud to have partnered with First 5 LA in its planning and implementation. We wish the program every success.

Your friends at LA Best Babies Network
Welcome Baby! Pilot Launches

Welcome Baby Group photo
Members of the Welcome Baby! team

The newly launched Welcome Baby! universal home visitation pilot program has begun home visits to families of babies born at California Hospital Medical Center. Based on similar successful programs in Europe; Canada; and Santa Barbara, California, the program offers education and support to new families. The Welcome Baby! pilot, funded by First 5 LA, under its Best Start LA initiative, is the result of several years' work. LA Best Babies Network helped design and implement the program which will be run by Maternal and Child Health Access, a non-profit social service agency. California Hospital Medical Center, the lead partner with MCH Access, is providing technical and administrative support. As the name implies, universal home visitation is voluntary, and open to all families regardless of their socio-economic status.
"For new moms, having a baby is such a life-changing experience, and every family needs support,'' said Lili McGuinness, the Clinical Staff Supervisor for the Welcome Baby! program.

Luz Chacon, the program's director, is also excited about the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of mothers and infants, especially through a program that will eventually reach thousands of families.
The plan is to hire 22 home visitors, or "parent coaches," who will make home visits designed to support  families as early as the 20th week of a woman's pregnancy, on through most of a child's first year. Mothers who choose to participate will receive as many as seven visits, including two prenatal visits, one in-hospital visit by a maternal and child health specialist, and four postnatal visits, including one by a registered nurse within 72 hours of delivery. Another goal of home visitation is to connect families to additional resources and support available within their communities.
During a typical visit, parents might learn how to maintain a child's immunization schedule, create a safe environment for their child, know if the baby is hitting early developmental milestones, and learn how to overcome struggles with breastfeeding. Studies have long demonstrated that breast milk is the optimal food for babies. Home visitors are also taught to recognize signs of perinatal depression and, if necessary, refer a woman for more intensive support. Home visitors recognize the importance of remaining non-judgmental and respecting parents as the experts when it comes to their child. The Welcome Baby! philosophy is to build on parents' strengths instead of pointing out weaknesses.
Research shows that home visitation is a powerful and cost-effective tool in increasing the health and wellbeing of families and communities at large. It promotes better parent-child interactions, birth outcomes, and more efficient use of healthcare services. Support for broadening the availability of home visitation is gaining momentum in government circles. First 5 LA predicts that federal funding for home visitation will jump to $8.3 billion by 2019.
L.A. County, with more than 150,000 births each year, and an ethnically and economically diverse population, is the ideal place to conduct this pilot. Over the course of the pilot, the home visitors will record their research and observations in a web-based registry created by LA Best Babies Network, adding to the store of data on this promising strategy.

Dr. Robin Johnson, the Family Engagement Director for the Network, believes that this person-to-person approach can yield dramatic, positive results. "It helps families detect problems before it's too late to intervene," says Dr. Johnson.
Learn More:
MCH Access Welcome Baby! program

LA Best Babies Network Universal Home Visitation

A Home Visitation Overview from First5 LA

Best Start LA

Santa Barbara County's Welcome Every Baby program