The American Journal of Public Health published, in their December issue, the results of the Randomized Control Trial the Children's Trust carried out in partnership with Tufts University's Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development. The study aimed to test the benefits of the Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) program. Some of the benefits reported by the article include:
HFM led to significantly fewer problematic behaviors, including severe risky behavior, drug use, and perpetration of intimate partner violence; it also increased the use of condoms in the period soon after the birth of the target child. With few exceptions, these effects generally have not been observed in other home visiting programs.
Our results suggest that HFM is able, in critical ways, to help young mothers navigate what is often a challenging time of transition. HFM holds promise as a preventive program working with populations on the cusp: infants moving through early development, new families forming, and young parents working to establish themselves as adults and caregivers. Maintaining continued participation throughout the program appears central to broadening its effectiveness.
The report explained the importance of working with young parents:
A central tenet of HFM is that the transition to parenting for young mothers, nested as it is in their own development through adolescence to young adulthood, offers a unique opportunity to set participants on a positive course, both for themselves and for their children. In this context, the observations that HFM helped mothers better cope with the stresses of parenting and that these mothers also exhibited fewer negative parenting behaviors and attitudes potentially reveal an important pathway to future favorable outcomes for their children.
Read the full article here.