Early and sustained home visiting by nurses or trained visitors to support the mothers of infants and young children is one of the most effective ways to significantly improve health and development outcomes for children. These strategies produce the greatest benefit in families at greatest socioeconomic disadvantage, and should be incorporated into mainstream services for children.
Improving health and developmental outcomes for children is a central objective for health service providers. In Australia, the main health goals and targets have been well defined for many years, and the adverse impacts of poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage on achieving these goals have been equally well documented. Clinical health services for children have made impressive gains over recent decades but they have, in the main, been unable to reduce these inequalities in health status deriving from socioeconomic disadvantage.
To make significant improvements in health and developmental outcomes for children, we need to use more effective strategies to intervene earlier in children’s lives and better address the determinants of these outcomes. Early and sustained home visiting has been shown to be one such strategy.