Thursday, December 1, 2011

What do home visitors need to know when working with babies?

To order the Competency Guidelines, please go to

Much interest has been generated in home visiting, particularly to support babies and their families.  Home visitors need knowledge and specialized skills to enter into relationships with families and to support social and emotional well-being in the critical early years.

So, what does a home visitor need to know? Knowledge about pregnancy & early parenthood; infant development & behavior, how family dynamics work, how attachment emerges and can be harmed by prolonged separation, trauma, and loss; and how to be culturally sensitive.  That's just the beginning!

They need to be sensitive to the relevant laws & policies that affect families and that affect home visiting programs, they need to understand how to manage ethical dilemmas, and how to locate appropriate resources like food, diapers, shelter, and pediatric health care.

 What skills do home visitors need to have?  They need to be able to observe & listen carefully, to screen for capacities and risks, to respond sensitively to what they see and hear, to support parents in nurturing and protecting their baby's development.

Above all, home visitors need to know all development unfolds in the context of relationships.  Infants develop best within secure and loving relationships.  Parents develop best when supported by  family and professionals within the community who offer nurturing relationships.  Home visitors need to understand  that their relationship is the most important instrument for positive change.

Go to the MI-AIMH website for more guidance and information in developing a professional work force who has the knowledge and skills to promote better outcomes for babies and families!
MI-AIMH website