Impact on Parents in the Healthy Families America program
Healthy Families America has been proven to have a significant impact on parents and families. A parent’s personal resources—including knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward parenting—impact their relationship with their baby. Healthy Families America helps parents develop their personal resources to improve family functioning, strengthen the parent-child relationship, promote child well-being, and prevent adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Family Functioning and Self-Sufficiency
HFA parents make significant gains in their education (AZ2*, CA, NY1, DC, MA1, MD2, NJ1) and make better use of community resources (AZ2). Delaying subsequent pregnancies at least two years impacts the health of both moms and babies, as well as helping young families achieve greater financial security. HFA studies show Improvements in moms waiting to have another child (FL4, NC, VA2b). Substance abuse is another indicator of family functioning, as well as a risk factor for child maltreatment. Mothers in HFA reported less alcohol use compared to control families (AZ2).
Positive Parenting Attitudes
HFA helps parents develop more positive beliefs about their role as parents. Compared to control families, HFA parents:
- showed stronger parenting efficacy (AK, HI2),
- had reduced parenting stress levels (MA2), and,
- had more positive perspectives on their parenting roles and responsibilities (GA, HI1, NY2).
Additional studies support these findings (CT, MA1, NJ1, OR).
It takes time for parents to become acquainted with their new baby. Responsiveness and communication are the building blocks of attachment, which in turn promotes child well-being and protects against child maltreatment. HFA shows significant impacts on parent -child interaction in numerous studies (GA, HI1, VA2, AZ1, FL2, IL, IN, MD1, MI, NJ1, OR, WI, VA4). In particular, a rigorous study showed significant improvements at two years on overall scores and specific areas of sensitivity, child clarity, and child responsiveness, while scores for control families declined (VA2).
Support for Child Development
HFA increases parents’ understanding of children’s developmental milestones and needs (NY2, IA, MD1); and helps parents create a more responsive and developmentally stimulating home environment (AK, GA, HI1, VA2, AZ1, DC, FL4, IL, IN, MD1, MI, NJ1, OR, VA4, WI).
The Bottom Line
Healthy Families America has demonstrated a positive impact on parents in many ways, including by helping them be the best parents they can be and reach personal goals (such as furthering their education and gaining employment). These outcomes have been shown in rigorous studies in multiple states.
NOTE: State abbreviations and numbers (i.e. AZ1) refer to evaluation studies; those in italics indicate Randomized Control Trials. For more information, see the HFA Evaluation Table.