In June 2021 New Jersey passed S690 which will provide all New Jersey residents access to at least one, and up to three, post-partum home visits by a specially trained registered nurse for the parent and infant at no cost to the family.
In June 2021 New Jersey passed S690 which will provide all New Jersey residents access to at least one, and up to three, post-partum (defined as within the first seven days following delivery) home visits by a specially trained registered nurse for the parent and infant at no cost to the family. The purpose of the visit will be to offer support and education to all parents welcoming a newborn, and serves both adoptive and resource parents, as well as those families who experience stillbirths. Home visits will be provided to families regardless of their income, insurance coverage, or legal status. According to the bill summary, the home visit topics covered include, but are not limited to, a weight and health check of the newborn, a general health assessment of the birthing parent, breast feeding support, assistance with identifying and coping with postpartum depression, and referrals for any medically necessary follow up care.
The bill references the success of a pilot program offering universal home visiting within a specific community with a high rate of poverty. The Durham Connects program offered universal voluntary home visiting through a program designed for implementation at a population level. In replication and scaling up the model was renamed to Family Connects and is currently a MIECHV-recognized evidenced based home visiting model. Family Connects offers universal voluntary home visiting to all families with a new infant within a defined service area. All families are eligible for at least one visit. During the visit the home visitor may determine that the family would benefit from connections to other community resources and services. The program has shown positive outcomes in child and parental health and mental health, connections to community resources, and positive parenting practices.
The implementation of a universal home visiting program available at birth aligns with Nurture New Jersey’s 2021 Strategic Plan. Nurture NJ, a statewide awareness campaign led by First Lady Tammy Murphy, created the strategic plan as a roadmap to reduce maternal mortality by 50% in five years and address equity issues within the state. One of the recommendations of the plan is for the Department of Children and Families “to continue to expand and universally offer evidence-based home visiting programs with focus on those models proven to reduce maternal and infant mortality.”
Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) worked closely with Senator M. Teresa Ruiz of New Jersey, who drafted the original legislation and was its primary sponsor. ACNJ assisted Senator Ruiz in strengthening the legislation after facilitating a connection with Oregon Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward about how to design, fund, and advocate for statewide universal home visiting. In 2019, Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass similar legislation. New Jersey’s bill provides $2.75 million for the Department of Children and Families to plan and implement the first phase of the initiative, but funding for the home visits will come from both Medicaid and private insurance company coverage requirements by the state. Advocates also lobbied for additional funding for existing home visiting programs for FY2022 to ensure a continuum of home visiting services would be available to families.
For more information about the legislation and the strategic plan see Governor Murphy Signs Landmark Legislation to Improve New Jersey’s Maternal and Infant Child Health Outcomes and NJ Becomes the Second State in the Nation to Establish a Statewide Universal Home Visiting Program.
ZERO TO THREE has a suite of materials to support home visiting expansion, including a video playlist that features advocates from New Jersey talking about their efforts.