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History of Home Visiting in Ohio

The origins of home visiting in Ohio can be traced back to the establishment of the Ohio Early Start program in 1995. The program initially provided services in 30 Ohio counties for families whose circumstances placed their young children at risk for future developmental delay, child abuse or neglect. Three years later, in 1998, the Ohio Department of Human Services made additional funds available through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant to expand the Ohio Early Start program statewide to all 88 counties. The expansion of the pilot program also added greater emphasis to the goals of increasing family self-sufficiency and reducing child abuse and neglect.

In 2001, the Ohio Department of Health, in conjunction with the Ohio Family and Children First Cabinet, launched the Help Me Grow (HMG) program, bringing Ohio's birth to three-serving programs together under a single system of coordinated services and supports for expectant parents, newborns, infants and toddlers who have or are at risk for developmental delay or disability. This new program integrated three existing programs under one umbrella. The HMG program included the 1. Early Start program, 2. Welcome Home (a program offering one-time home visits by a registered nurse to firstĀ­ time and teenage parents) and 3. Early Intervention (a statewide system of early intervention services established by federal law under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to serve children with disabilities up to age three). Together, these programs were administered by each local Family and Children First Council and funded through allocations from three funding sources-- General Revenue Funds, TANF and Part C.

In March 2007, Governor Ted Strickland issued an Executive Order creating an Early Childhood Cabinet (ECC) to unite key state agencies around the common goal of promoting school readiness by setting and coordinating state policy and programs which serve Ohio's children, from prenatal through six years of age. The new Early Childhood Cabinet was comprised of six state agencies who currently oversee programs and services for young children and their families-the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS), Ohio Department of Education (ODE), Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) and Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD). The vision of the ECC was to ensure that all Ohio children have access to high quality early childhood experiences so that every child is socially, emotionally, physically and Intellectually prepared to use his or her capabilities to succeed.

Beginning in 2008, the ECC initiated a review of the HMG program with the input of local early childhood providers and state and local partners. The review examined the HMG program's administration, funding and compliance with federal requirements. In addition, the system review also Identified opportunities for redesign of the program and its accountability systems in order to serve families as effectively and efficiently as possible. As a result of the review process, ODH restructured its home visiting services in order to establish greater quality and standardization and ensuring meaningful outcomes across all 88 counties. The program design required evidence-based home visiting practices and interventions as well as a rigorous evaluation of both program implementation and program outcomes.

In July of 2016, Governor John R. Kasich signed House Bill 483, transferring Part C Lead Agency authority, oversight and program operations to the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD). Additionally, the legislation established Help Me Grow as an ODH initiative that seeks to encourage early prenatal and well-baby care, as well as provide parenting education to promote the comprehensive health and development of children by way of home visiting.

In January of 2017, Governor John R. Kasich signed Senate Bill 332, which established Help Me Grow as Ohio’s evidenced-based parent support program that encourages early prenatal and well-baby care, as well as parenting education to promote the comprehensive health and development of children. Additionally, the legislation required Help Me Grow to utilize only evidence-based or innovative, or promissing home visiting models to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Improve maternal and child health;
  2. Prevent child abuse and neglect;
  3. Encourage positive parenting;
  4. Promote child development and school readiness.

Furthermore, the legislation established program benchmarks domains of:

  1. Improvement in maternal and newborn health;
  2. Reduction in child injuries, abuse and neglect;
  3. Improved school readiness and achievement;
  4. Reduction in crime and domestic violence; and
  5. Improved family economic self-sufficiency.