New Family Home Visits program for first-time parents targets underserved New Yorkers regardless of immigration status

Photo credit: Digital Skillet 1

The Health Department announced on December 7, 2021, that the New Family Home Visits program is open to first-time families in public housing engaged with child welfare or living in neighborhoods with the greatest social burdens. The program offers a range of evidence-based home-visiting services via trained health care workers—from breastfeeding support and creating a safe home, to mental health screenings, to doula services.

“Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming, and many families need help and support to raise healthy and thriving children,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “The New Family Home Visits program will offer critical support to underserved families and help reduce the persistent inequities in maternal and infant health in our city.”

“The ‘New Family Home Visits’ program serves to help reduce the disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality,” said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues. “Nationally, Black women are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes than women of other races, and the mortality rate for infants born to Black women is also 2.3 times greater than the infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic whites. Unfortunately, I experienced these disparities firsthand when I lost my infant son in 2016, following preterm labor that threatened my life. As a national beacon of progress and equity, our City should strive to spare other people and families of color from such systemic failures in the health care system. I look forward to the near-term rollout of this program in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and surrounding areas.”

The New Family Home Visits program was initially slated to launch in February 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the rollout.

The program will focus on neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19 and with the greatest health and social burdens—for example, overcrowded housing, prevalence of chronic disease, and the number of people experiencing poverty. At full ramp-up, the program will serve first-time parents in the 33 neighborhoods identified by the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE); families living in NYCHA in the TRIE neighborhoods, and families citywide engaged with ACS. The program is entirely voluntary and free to all families regardless of immigration status or income. The goal is to reach 7,000 new families by June 30, 2022.

Families who enroll in the New Family Home Visits program will receive evidence-based services based on their unique needs. For example, a family who has a two-month-old infant and needs a safe crib and supplies for the baby would be referred to our Newborn Home Visiting Program for a connection to a diaper bank and the non-profit Cribs for Kids for a free portable crib. The program will leverage the City’s existing home-visiting initiatives—namely the Nurse-Family Partnership and the Newborn Home Visiting Program—and build new connections to community-based organizations and health care providers. The Newborn Home Visiting Program has increased the number of Baby-Friendly designated maternity facilities in New York City from three to 24 over the past seven years. Data shows that families participating in Nurse Family Partnership have increased rates in breastfeeding, safe sleep practices, compliance with immunizations, and screening for developmental delays and depression, and anxiety.

Currently, eligible NYCHA families and families engaged with ACS can enroll in New Family Home Visits. The program will be phased in the 33 TRIE neighborhoods, starting with the following 11:
Bedford Stuyvesant
Brownsville
Bushwick
Central Harlem
Concourse/Highbridge
East Harlem
East Tremont
Hunts Point
Morrisania
Mott Haven
University Heights/Morris Heights

The remaining 22 neighborhoods will be added over the next three months. Eligible families can call 311 to enroll.