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Citation:Sweet, M. A., & Appelbaum, M. I. (2004). Is home visiting an effective strategy? A meta-analytic review of home visiting programs for families with young children. Child Development, 75(5), 1435-1456.

The purpose of this meta-analytic research is to investigate whether home visiting programs help families with young children across a wide variety of outcomes. Home visiting is a strategy for delivering a service, not a specific type of intervention or service. Results indicate that in general, children whose families were enrolled in a home visiting program fared better than children who were not (control groups). Several findings were statistically significant but measures of effect size, which give an indication of practical significance, were low. Home visiting does seem to help families with young children (children and parents benefit), but the extent to which this help is worth the effort, time, and cost of creating and implementing programs is yet to be determined. What makes certain home visiting programs successful is unclear. With wide variation in programs, goals, and measures it is difficult to analyze across programs. Standardization of implementation could help researchers determine what types of programs work best or for whom the programs are most beneficial. Data included results from 60 home visiting programs. The meta-analysis began with a literature search for research articles on home visiting programs for young children and also included a call for unpublished papers from home visiting programs. The programs were U.S. home visiting programs (home visits were the primary method of delivering service) that began after 1965. This research excluded programs for special needs children. Outcomes included child outcomes such as cognitive development, socioemotional development and prevention of abuse; parent outcomes included parenting behavior, attitudes, education, and employment. Home visiting programs vary greatly across several dimensions that may not be easily measured in program evaluations. Standardization would assist in future meta-analytic efforts to draw conclusions about what practices work best for specific outcomes.

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