Family Connects Illinois (FC IL) uses an evidence-based universal approach for supporting newborns and their families, contributing to a healthy and encouraging foundation for future success in the child’s life. The first of its kind in the state of Illinois, FC IL ensures that there is an entry point for all families in a community – including those in need – to receive customized services and support from which they could benefit. This universally accessible program provides between one and three nurse home visits to every family with a newborn beginning at about three weeks of age, regardless of income or demographic risk. Using a tested screening tool, the nurse measures newborn and maternal health and assesses strengths, interests and needs to effectively link the family to community resources.
Less visible, but as important, are the benefits to the community, the most dramatic being cost savings on emergency medical care for mothers and infants (i.e. fewer emergency visits and preventable medical interventions). Additionally, the universal model encourages strong collaborative relationship among hospitals, medical providers, local and state service providers, early care and education programs, and their county health departments. These relationships result in community linkages to a wide array of supports, ranging from parks and libraries to shelters and food pantries, to medical providers and home visiting programs.
FC IL is an initiative of the Ounce of Prevention, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works to ensure all children have access to high-quality care and education. The Family Connects model is part of Family Connects International at Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy and is one of the most promising models and is being actively replicated in over 15 locations across the country, including in Illinois. Family Connects is approved at the federal level by the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) as an evidence-based model. See additional evidence for why the Family Connects model works here .
FC IL is made possible by funding from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, with support from the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.