University of Illinois Urbana‑Champaign

Home Visiting, IDHS Programs

Find out about Home Visiting.

Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood (IDHS-DEC) Home Visiting supports pregnant people and parents with young children ages 0-5 who live in communities that face greater risks and barriers to achieving positive maternal and child health outcomes. The program aims to:

  • Improve maternal and child health;
  •  Prevent child abuse and neglect;
  •  Reduce crime and domestic violence;
  •  Increase family education level and earning potential;
  •  Promote children’s development and readiness to participate in school; and
  • Connect families to needed community resources and supports.

IDHS-DEC Home Visiting programs provide family support and coaching through planned, regular visits with a trained professional based on a family’s needs and schedules. Home visitors work with parents on practical parenting skills as well as family bonding before birth and as children grow up.

Home visiting is a voluntary program provided at no cost to families. Families choose to participate in home visiting programs, and partner with health, social service, and child development professionals to set and achieve goals that improve their health and well-being. Home visiting programs are operated by local service providers including community-based organizations, health departments, and school districts in communities across the state.

IDHS-DEC Home Visiting includes these funding streams:

  • State-Funded Home Visiting (formerly known as Healthy Families Illinois or HFI, supported by state General Revenue Funds)
    • State funded programs currently use one of the following evidence-based models: Early Head Start-Home Based (EHS), Healthy Families America (HFA), or Parent As Teachers (PAT) (see below). Some programs offer the doula enhancement (see below).
  • Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV, supported by federal funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration, authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 711(c) (Title V, § 511(c) of the Social Security Act)
    • MIECHV funded programs currently use evidence-based home visiting models HFA and PAT (see below).
  • Maternal Child Home Visiting (MCHV, formerly known as Parents Too Soon or PTS, supported by federal Title XX block grant funds and state General Revenue Funds)
    • MCHV programs are overseen by Start Early and may use evidence-based home visiting models including HFA, PAT, and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) (see below). Some programs offer the doula enhancement (see below).

IDHS-DEC currently funds home visiting programs that use one of the following evidence-based home visiting models:

  • Early Head Start Home-Based Option (EHS) serves low-income pregnant women and families with children younger than age 3, most of whom are at or below the federal poverty level or eligible for Part C services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in their state. The model provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services. EHS home-based services include a minimum of weekly 90-minute home visits and two group socialization activities per month for parents and their children.
  • Healthy Families America (HFA) goals include reducing child maltreatment, improving parent-child interactions and children’s social-emotional well-being, and promoting children’s school readiness. Local HFA sites select the target population they plan to serve and offer hour-long home visits at least weekly until children are 6 months old, with the possibility of less frequent visits thereafter. Visits begin prenatally or within the first three months after a child’s birth and continue until children are between 3 and 5 years old. In addition, many HFA sites offer parent support groups and father involvement programs. Sites also can develop activities to meet the needs of their specific communities and target populations.
  • Nurse Family Partnership (NFP)  is designed for first-time, low-income mothers and their children. It includes one-on-one home visits by a trained registered professional nurse to participating clients. The visits begin early in the woman’s pregnancy (with program enrollment no later than the 28th week of gestation) and conclude when the woman’s child turns 2 years old. NFP is designed to improve (1) prenatal and maternal health and birth outcomes, (2) child health and development, and (3) families’ economic self-sufficiency and/or maternal life course development.
  • Parents as Teachers (PAT)  provides parents with child development knowledge and parenting support, provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues, prevent child abuse and neglect, and increase children’s school readiness. The PAT model includes one-on-one home visits, monthly group meetings, developmental screenings, and linkages and connections for families to needed resources. Parent educators conduct home visits using structured visit plans and guided planning tools. Local sites offer at least 12 hour-long home visits annually with more offered to higher-need families. PAT serves families for at least two years between pregnancy and kindergarten. PAT programs select the target population they plan to serve and the program duration. 

The doula enhancement for home visiting means that doula services are offered as an integrated part of a long-term, evidence-based home visiting model. (These doula services are not intended to be stand-alone services.) Ideally, the doula services should commence at the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy. The doula and long-term home visitor should work together to introduce services to expectant families. The doula and home visitor must coordinate home visits in the perinatal period to avoid duplication of services while ensuring that the long-term home visitor begins a relationship with the family early enough to ensure a smooth transition from doula/home visitor services to just home visiting services.

Data available on IECAM

Latest data: FY2023

Number of children served

The total number of children served by IDHS home-visiting programs.

Source of data: IDHS Bureau of Childhood Development and Start Early

Geographic region: These data are available by state, county, and Chicago. To get data for Chicago on the IECAM database, use a county search. Under Region, choose Counties and then select Cook - Chicago. 

These data are available by state and county.

  • Searchable data on the IECAM database are reported for the three programs listed above, encompassing four evidence-based home-visiting models (EHS, HFA, NFP, and PAT). Data are reported by county, separated by numbers in two groups of children: 0, 1, and 2 years of age and 3, 4, and 5 years of age.
  • In general, home visiting services take place in the family’s residence, not at the office location of the home visiting program.
    • Prior to FY22, the data on number of children served by IDHS-DEC state-funded home visiting was reported for the location of the program, not the residence of the child. For example, if a child lived in McHenry County but received state-funded home visiting services from Kane County, the child was counted for Kane County.
    • Starting in FY22, with the adoption of a new data system, the data on number of children served by IDHS-DEC state-funded home visiting is reported for the residence of the child.
    • For all years, MIECHV reports number of children served by residence of the child.
  • IDHS reports data on MCHV programs in fact sheets for some years. This data represents the number of adult participants in the program, not the number of children served.

Note on MIECHV data

Data on IECAM for FY2022 to present are the total number of enrolled children. For FFY2021 and before, data show the number of children newly enrolled during the year, not the total number of children.

Note that for 2022 to present, the data represent the state fiscal year (July 1 through June 30), while for 2021 and before, data represent the federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).

MIECHV data availability: State, county, IDHS Region, ISBE Region