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This Program Is Proven to Help Moms and Babies—so Why Aren’t We Investing in It More?

Every week, up to 75 home visitors like Williams from several home visiting programs fan out across Hillsborough County, which encompasses Tampa. They bring books, toys and reading materials about child development, provide tips on how to deal with tantrums and help parents navigate everything: their own mental health needs, safe sleep habits for their babies, and immunizations. These simple interactions between nurses and moms can have stunning results. Among families that participate in the county’s home visiting programs, child abuse and neglect rates are so low they are nearly nonexistent, nearly all children were up-to-date with immunizations, repeat pregnancy rates within two years were low, and a high percentage of mothers try breastfeeding. Between 1998 and 2013, the rate of children in the county dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) was more than cut in half.