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Chapter 11: Delinquency Prevention and Juvenile Justice Today: 11-2a Home-Based Programs Book Title: Juvenile Delinquency: The Core Printed By: Robert Rooks ( © 2017 Cengage Learning, Cengage Learning

11-2a Home-Based Programs

In a supportive and loving home environment, parents care for their children’s health and general well-being, help instill in their children positive values such as honesty and respect for others, and nurture prosocial behaviors. One of the most important types of home-based programs to prevent juvenile delinquency involves the provision of support for families. Support for families in their homes can take many different forms. A popular and effective form of family support is home visitation.

Early prevention programs that stress family support can reduce child abuse and neglect and juvenile delinquency. The most effective early family support programs provide infants with regular pediatrician checkups and provide parents with advice about care for the child, infant development, and local services. Here, Beth Pletz, a nurse with the Nurse–Family Partnership, visits with Shirita Corley and her children Jamarley, 2 years, and Daniel Karter, 4 months, in Memphis, Tennessee.


Home Visitation

The best-known home visitation program is the Nurse-Family Partnership (formerly Prenatal/Early Infancy Project) that was started in Elmira, New York. This program was designed with three broad objectives:

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To improve the outcomes of pregnancy

To improve the quality of care that parents provide to their children (and their children’s subsequent health and development)

To improve women’s own personal life course development (completing their education, finding work, and planning future pregnancies)

The program targeted first-time mothers-to-be who were under 19 years of age, unmarried, or poor. In all, 400 women were enrolled in the program. The mothers-to-be received home visits from nurses during pregnancy and during the first two years of the child’s life. Each home visit lasted about one and one-quarter hours, and the mothers were visited on average every two weeks. The home visitors gave advice to the mothers about care of the child, infant development, and the importance of proper nutrition and avoiding smoking and drinking during pregnancy. Fifteen years after the program started, children of the mothers who received home visits had half as many arrests as children of mothers who received no home visits (the control group). It was also found that these children, compared to those in the control group, had fewer convictions and violations of probation, were less likely to run away from home, and were less likely to drink alcohol. In addition to the program’s success in preventing juvenile crime and other delinquent activities, it also produced a number of improvements in the lives of the mothers, such as lower rates of child abuse and neglect, crime in general, and substance abuse, as well as less reliance on welfare and social services.

A RAND study found that the program’s desirable effects, for both the children and the mothers, translated into substantial financial benefits for government and taxpayers, and that the total amount of these benefits was more than four times the cost of the program (see Figure 11.1). A more recent analysis of the program’s costs and benefits—based on a large number of studies across the country—showed a favorable return of $2.90 for every dollar spent on the program. In the latest follow-up of the program, when the children were 19 years old, girls incurred significantly fewer arrests and convictions compared to their control counterparts, while few program effects were observed for the boys.

Figure 11.1

Costs and Benefits of Home Visits for High-Risk Families

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Nurse–Family Partnership, a maternal and early childhood health program, fosters long- term success for first-time moms, their babies, and society.

Source: Adapted from Peter W. Greenwood et al., “Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions: Nurse Home Visits and the Perry Preschool,” in Costs and Benefits of Preventing Crime, ed. Brandon C. Welsh, David P. Farrington, and Lawrence W. Sherman (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001), Table 4.3.

Two other experiments of the Nurse- Family Partnership program in Memphis, Tennessee, and Denver, Colorado, have produced similar benefits for the mothers and their children, including a reduction in child abuse and neglect. The success of the program has resulted in its use in 560 counties in 43 states across the country, serving more than 31,000 families each year. In Colorado, the program was established in law, and in its first year of operation served almost 1,400 families in 49 of the state’s 64 counties. It is also now being replicated throughout England. The use of nurses instead of paraprofessionals, its intensity (a minimum of two years), and its targeted nature (for first-time, disadvantaged mothers only) are critical features that distinguish it from other, less effective home visitation programs, such as Hawaii Healthy Start.

Chapter 11: Delinquency Prevention and Juvenile Justice Today: 11-2a Home-Based Programs Book Title: Juvenile Delinquency: The Core Printed By: Robert Rooks ( © 2017 Cengage Learning, Cengage Learning

© 2018 Cengage Learning Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this work may by reproduced or used in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic, or mechanical, or in any other manner – without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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