Home visiting during pregnancy and early childhood is an effective health promotion strategy for improving parental and young children’s health, development, and well-being. To maximise the effects of home visiting services for human development, the scope of the visits has to go beyond physical health checks to include critical issues that affect holistic child development, such as responsive caregiving, parental well-being, and play among others. Home visiting is an ideal strategy to influence parental attitudes and behaviors and reach the most vulnerable families and children.
In Europe and Central Asia, home visiting services are present in most countries and reach almost all families. Thus, they have the potential to support a large number of parents and young children. Home visiting services are unique because they take place in a family home, allowing professionals to observe parents/caregivers and children in their natural environment, assess social and environmental factors affecting child development and parental well-being, and tailor the support to the family's individual needs. It is ideal for influencing parent’s attitudes and behaviours; and an excellent strategy for reaching the most vulnerable families who might come less frequently into contact with health facilities.
To unlock the potential of home visits to improve pregnant women and young children’s health and development, home visitors must be empowered to support responsive and nurturing care, stimulating and safe home environment, prevention of child maltreatment, and early detection of risk and vulnerability.