Experts agree home visiting programs are crucial to educate parents and reduce fatal child abuse and neglect. Some programs are more effective than others.
In New Mexico, only two of the home visiting programs the Children, Youth and Families Department funds are so-called “evidence based,” relying on “rigorous” research that demonstrates positive outcomes, the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee found in 2013.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed nurse home visiting programs as an effective way to prevent child abuse. One such evidence-based program is the Nurse-Family Partnership. Started more than 30 years ago, the program has served more than 18,500 families in Colorado since 1999 and has spread across the country. It operates one site in New Mexico, in Albuquerque.
The LFC estimates implementing the Nurse-Family Partnership program in New Mexico could result in $9.70 in benefits — such as decreased costs of remediation in schools, decreased criminal activity and welfare assistance and improved educational outcomes for children — for every $1 the state spends. Other home visiting programs, such as Head Start or Parents as Teachers, could also produce financial benefits for the state, LFC found.
One thing in New Mexico’s favor is the Home Visiting Accountability Act, said Kelly Klundt, a senior fiscal analyst with the LFC. The law, enacted last year, requires CYFD to establish a system of home visiting services across the state and evaluate it annually.
New Mexico is one of a handful of states to pass such laws. New Mexico’s new law, however, does not establish a guaranteed funding stream for home visiting.