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County-Wide Home Visiting Program Found to Reduce Child Abuse and Neglect
Date:12/6/2007

Healthy Families Montgomery Celebrates Ten Years of Service

BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Child abuse and neglect can be virtually eliminated when certain risk factors -- such as parental stress, maternal depression or a parent's social isolation -- are reduced, according to a new 10-year study released today by the Family Services Agency (FSA). The study tracked more than 600 families who participated in FSA's Healthy Families Montgomery program over the past ten years -- a program which provides in-home services to first time parents, helping them improve their child rearing skills and become more self sufficient.

"Providing support to high-risk families is absolutely critical to ensuring the health of our county's most vulnerable children," said Thom Harr, Executive Director of the Family Services Agency. "Research consistently shows that child abuse and neglect are linked to numerous long-term physical and mental health problems. This study shows that Healthy Families Montgomery is working -- that's great news for all of us."

Nationwide, more than 900,000 children are victims of abuse and neglect, with an estimated 1,500 child fatalities -- a rate of just over four fatalities each day. Nearly 80% of the children killed are younger than four.

In its ten year history, there have been only six cases of founded child maltreatment, and all of these were neglect. The study demonstrates that HFM is not only achieving positive outcomes with its high-risk families but is also meeting or exceeding county, state and national rates for the general population. Specifically:

-- The program successfully linked 99% of target children and 100% of

mothers with medical providers. Nearly all mothers enrolled in the

program (97%) gave birth to babies with healthy birth weights.

-- A full 80% of mothers completed their postpartum visit, resulting in

the prevention of repeat births within t
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SOURCE Family Services Agency
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