Pilot Project Brings More Home Visiting Services to State’s Most Vulnerable Families


State agencies, communities and key programs partner to better serve families receiving federal TANF funds


About 175 families receiving federal assistance will now have access to the high-quality home visiting programs that have the power to give their children a better start and change the future for their whole family.


It’s part of a new pilot program to build better connections between the state’s nationally recognized home visiting efforts and the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Partners in the pilot include Thrive Washington, Department of Early Learning, Department of Commerce, and Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which oversees the use of TANF funds in the WorkFirst program.


Home visiting programs reach children in those critical first years of life and are a proven strategy to strengthen the parent-child bond, develop more positive parenting practices and improve school readiness. They also often provide the support parents need to leave domestic violence situations, go back to school or secure a job that can support the family.


“Over the past several years, we have made significant changes throughout the agency to better serve and stabilize families,” said David Stillman, assistant secretary for the Economic Services Administration of DSHS. “We know those early years establish a huge foundation for children and families. This partnership will help us lift up more families in our care and give them a great chance at being successful on their own.”


The pilot program brings together for the first time TANF and the state’s Home Visiting Services Account, which is managed by the Department of Early Learning and Thrive Washington. Established by the Legislature in 2010, the account uses combinations of federal, state and private funds to provide home visiting services to about 2,000 families living in some of the state’s most vulnerable communities; funds also support the professional development of home visitors and ensure programs get the results they promise.


“We already see ways we can build on and better coordinate what we’re each doing separately, so that more children and families benefit from home visiting services and every dollar is well spent,” said Bette Hyde, director of Department of Early Learning.


“There is great potential in this partnership,” said Sam Whiting, president and CEO of Thrive Washington. “Not only do we see it at the state level, but communities also see it. They’re eager to work with us because we all want to do a better job reaching and supporting more families. We can change the trajectory of an entire family with high-quality home visiting.”


Five community organizations were recently awarded about $1 million in grants to participate in the pilot over the next year:

  • Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (Yakima County) – $168,000
  • Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (Pierce County) – $170,281
  • Grays Harbor County Public Health & Social Services Department (Grays Harbor County) — $250,000
  • Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (Thurston County) – $202,758
  • Community Youth Services (Thurston County) — $214,930


Four counties – Spokane, Benton/Franklin, Snohomish and Cowlitz – also have volunteered their time to understand how they can build a stronger referral system in their communities and connect more eligible families to home visiting.


The pilot program is expected to run through 2016.