Pioneering Effort Helps Bring Evidence-Based Home Visiting to Rural Areas

This is the first in a series of blog posts about the Rural Home Visiting Project led by Thrive by Five Washington. You can also learn more here.
Families in remote and rural communities face unique challenges. They might have to drive an hour or more to reach a health care provider – even longer for access to child care. Sometimes there are no licensed child care providers at all. In most areas, there are not parenting education classes nor support groups nearby.
But with home visiting, families can get support from a trained professional — in their own homes — to help their babies get a great start in life.
With funding from the Home Visiting Services Account, three home visiting programs are starting up in rural communities in Washington. The programs are:

  • Okanogan County Child Development Association | $201,526
  • Columbia Basin Health Association (Adams County) | $201,434
  • Grays Harbor County Public Health & Social Services Department | $201,334

It’s an effort that’s receiving national attention.
At Thrive, which administers the Home Visiting Services Account, rural development specialist Liv Woodstrom led the Rural Home Visiting Project to engage with communities throughout the state. In accordance with state and federal guidelines for this project, organizations in five Washington counties — Adams, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Pend Oreille and Okanogan — were eligible to participate and request funds.
Organizations and agencies in Adams, Grays Harbor and Okanogan counties moved forward with the project. (Pend Oreille, with support from Thrive, continues to explore how to expand home visiting services in its area.) Each decided to implement the Parents as Teachers home visiting model.
“This is a novel approach,” Woodstrom said. “We used a mutual selection process, which was deliberate and careful. Each of the five communities participated in a planning process, and they each decided whether to participate. This means that the agencies doing the work on the ground are poised to take these funds and use them to do a great job of responding to the needs of families.”