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Indiana Department of Child Services

DCS  > Prevention > Healthy Families Indiana Healthy Families Indiana

Local Healthy Families Office  

Healthy Families Indiana is a voluntary home visitation program designed to promote healthy families and healthy children through a variety of services, including child development, access to health care and parent education. 

By working closely with hospital maternity wards, prenatal clinics and other local agencies, Healthy Families Indiana systematically identifies families that could benefit from education and support services either before or immediately after birth. The program is designed to strengthen families by reducing child abuse and neglect, childhood health problems and juvenile delinquency.

In partnership with Healthy Families America, the national home visitation model, Healthy Families Indiana was launched in 1994. The underlying assumptions of this public/private partnership are:

  • Parents are responsible for their children.
  • Families have strengths which need to be recognized.
  • When services are delivered, families should be actively involved in decisions which affect their lives.
  • Service systems should be available to intervene early be preventive in nature to avoid family crisis.
  • Successful Healthy Families Programs are locally driven, collaborative in nature and build upon and strengthen existing and new partnerships.
  • Program accountability is linked to results and continuous improvement From the Healthy Families Indiana Strategic Plan January, 1996.

Goals: The goals of Healthy Families Indiana are to:

  • Prevent negative childhood outcomes 
  • Increase in parenting skills and behaviors 
  • Increase in healthy pregnancy practices
  • Increase in ongoing health care practices
  • Increase in mental health indicators
  • Increase in social support 
  • Participants will improve family functioning

Research over the last two decades has consistently confirmed that providing education and support services to parents around the time of a baby's birth, and continuing for months or years afterwards, significantly reduces the risk of child maltreatment and contributes to positive, healthy child rearing practices. Families receiving this type of intensive home visitor service also show other positive changes such as consistent use of preventive health services, increased high school completion rates for teen parents, higher employment rates, lower welfare use and fewer pregnancies.

Healthy Families Indiana provides screening and assessment of families in targeted areas throughout the state. Service entry points include WIC Programs, health clinics and local hospital. Parents are screened using a validated, standardized instrument, the Maternal Record Screen. Positive screens do not assess the risk of child abuse and neglect but do indicate a need to conduct a more in-depth discussion with the family.

Families with positive screens are then assessed using a standard validated instrument, the Kempe Family Stress Checklist. Family Assessment Workers also use a standardized rating scale to score the checklist. Families with a score of 25 or higher are offered the opportunity to participate in a voluntary home visiting program tailored to their individual needs.

All Family Assessment Workers and Family Support Workers employed by local Healthy Families sites must complete 40 hours of Core Training within the first month of employment and an additional 90 hours of wrap around training within the first 6 months of employment. All Healthy Family sites are guided by 12 Critical Program elements defined by Healthy Families America as a result of repeated evaluation of early intervention programs with children and families. These 12 Critical Elements are organized into three categories:

  • Initiation of Services
  • Service Content
  • Selection and Training of Service Providers

Please see the 2008 Annual Report and the 2008 Annual Fact Sheet to obtain current program information. 

All 92 Indiana counties are serviced by Healthy Families sites, providing screening, assessment, referral and home visiting services.