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Is Home Visiting an Effective Strategy? A Meta-Analytic Review of Home Visiting Programs for Families With Young Children


  • This meta-analytic review was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Coded data were provided by Abt Associates, who completed this work as part of a larger meta-analytic review of family support programs. Their work, funded under Contract 105-94-1925, was conducted for the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A portion of this work was presented at the Home Visiting Workshop (National Academy of Sciences Board on Children, Youth, and Families) in Washington, D.C., March 1999.

concerning this article should be addressed to Monica A. Sweet, Department of Psychology, 0109, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0109. Electronic mail may be sent to


Home visiting programs for families with young children have been in effect for many years; however, this is the first comprehensive meta-analytic effort to quantify the usefulness of home visits as a strategy for helping families across a range of outcomes. Sixty home visiting programs contributed data to analysis within 5 child and 5 parent outcome groups. Standardized effect sizes were computed for each end-of-treatment outcome measure, for each treatment versus control contrast. Weighted mean standardized effect sizes ranged from –.043 to .318; 6 of the 10 significantly differed from 0. No one program characteristic consistently affected effect sizes across outcome groups. The extent to which these findings have practical use for the field is discussed.