Journal Issue: Home Visiting: Recent Program Evaluations Volume 9 Number 1 Spring/Summer 1999
Hawaii's Healthy Start Program (HSP) is designed to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote child health and development in newborns of families at risk for poor child outcomes. The program operates statewide in Hawaii and has inspired national and international adaptations, including Healthy Families America. This article describes HSP, its ongoing evaluation study, and evaluation findings at the end of two of a planned three years of family program participation and follow-up.
After two years of service provision to families, HSP was successful in linking families with pediatric medical care, improving maternal parenting efficacy, decreasing maternal parenting stress, promoting the use of nonviolent discipline, and decreasing injuries resulting from partner violence in the home. No overall positive program impact emerged after two years of service in terms of the adequacy of well-child health care; maternal life skills, mental health, social support, or substance use; child development; the child's home learning environment or parent-child interaction; pediatric health care use for illness or injury; or child maltreatment (according to maternal reports and child protective services reports). However, there were agency-specific positive program effects on several outcomes, including parent-child interaction, child development, maternal confidence in adult relationships, and partner violence.
Significant differences were found in program implementation between the three administering agencies included in the evaluation. These differences had implications for family participation and involvement levels and, possibly, for outcomes achieved. The authors conclude that home visiting programs and evaluations should monitor program implementation for faithfulness to the program model, and should employ comparison groups to determine program impact.