Home Visiting and Family Support Services in Alaska
Home visiting programs are voluntary programs for pregnant clients and families with young children. The services are delivered by a home visiting professional, typically in the family’s home and are free for families. The benefits of home visiting include:
- Improved maternal and child health
- Safe homes and positive relationships
- Increased school readiness
- Improved parent self-sufficiency
- Short and long- term financial benefits
Home visitors help families with positive parenting skills, coordinated services, necessary referrals, and screen for child development, domestic violence, and maternal depression. Home visitors appreciate the vital role of parents and caregivers and maintain confidentiality and respect for a family’s personal values and delight in children’s imagination, creativity and play.
Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV)
The federally funded Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) began in 2010 and there has been a program in Alaska since 2012. MIECHV was reauthorized in 2023. Alaska’s MIECHV program supports the Nurse Family Partnership Program at The Children’s Hospital at Providence and serves families in Anchorage and Mat-Su. The home visitors are registered nurses. The program serves priority populations that include low income families, young parents, families with a history of substance misuse or child neglect, and military families.
NFP is designed to support first time parents who enroll before the 28th week of pregnancy up to age three, but the Alaska NFP program at Providence has been allowed to expand to include those with more than one child and enrollment up to the time of delivery. Services are offered to individuals who are Medicaid eligible. The program is completely funded by federal grants and is managed by Women’s, Children’s & Family Health (WCFH).
There is also the Nutaqsiviik tribal MIECHV NFP program at Southcentral Foundation and two tribally funded Parents as Teachers Programs at Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Fairbanks Native Association.
Parents As Teachers (PAT)
Parents As Teachers (PAT) is a comprehensive home visiting model used to provide a wide array of services to families with children from prenatal through kindergarten. Trained parent educators visit homes to support and build on parent and caregiver strengths, while teaching about early childhood development and learning. Some programs just use the PAT curriculum and resources, such as Head Start/Early Head Start, while others implement the full model and are called Affiliates.
The State of Alaska funds Affiliate PAT programs with general funds awarded to the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) and the program is managed by WCFH to coordinate with the federal MIECHV home visiting program. Currently there are PAT Affiliate programs provided in Anchorage, Mat-Su, Juneau, Haines, Kodiak, and Toksook Bay. These programs are located in four agencies in the state:
Most PAT programs do not have income or age restrictions for enrollment, but priority is given to families that may be struggling and might benefit from additional support and connection.