On October 29, 2019, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis introduced a motion to have the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health work with the Departments of Mental Health, Health Services, and Children and Family Services, and First 5 LA, to provide a report identifying how home visiting services can be expanded to reach more of the county’s most vulnerable residents.
Rocio Parra, Director of Prenatal to 5 Programs at The Whole Child — a community-based organization in the Family Strengthening Network that provides home visiting services to families in the San Gabriel Valley and East LA areas — testified at the meeting in favor of adopting the motion. She discussed The Whole Child’s work and the urgent and growing need to support pregnant women and families who are homeless. She was joined by several others who testified in favor. You can find her complete testimony here.
With no objections to a unanimous vote, the Department of Public Health was given 180 days to report back to the Board of Supervisors with:
- An assessment of the unmet needs for home visiting services for vulnerable women in Los Angeles County
- Recommendations for new home visiting models to serve high-risk women in Los Angeles County, based on a review of current home visiting models, other models of supportive care for pregnant and parenting women, and models of outreach to high-risk populations that are currently in use nationally
- A summary of potential funding needs and streams for an appropriate level of services to meet the needs of high-risk groups
According to Linda Aragon, director for the county’s public health division of maternal, child and adolescent health, there are 18,650 high-risk families who do not have access to intensive home visiting services. Among high-risk women and their families, at least 4,057 women were homeless during their last pregnancy.
“Comparing our current home visiting capacity to community need reveals substantial gaps, especially for our most vulnerable women and their families,” Aragon told the The Chronicle of Social Change. “Given the difficulty in counting this population, we believe that this is an under-representation of the number of homeless pregnant women in Los Angeles County.”
Los Angeles County Home Visiting Needs and Capacity
Recently, after its own assessment of Los Angeles County’s home visiting needs and capacity, the Los Angeles County Perinatal and Early Childhood Home Visitation Consortium found that nearly 750,000 children between the ages of 0 – 5 are living in poverty and eligible for free home visiting in L.A. County each year. But less than 30,000 receive those services.
This means that 96% of potentially eligible families are unable to access home visiting services because of the lack of home visiting openings available in the county:
There’s little doubt that the forthcoming report to the Board of Supervisors will show the need to expand home visiting services for L.A. County families. We applaud the County for continuing to recognize the value of home visiting in building strong, thriving families and communities.
In 2017, the Board of Supervisors directed the Department of Public Health to work with other county agencies and organizations, including the L.A. County Consortium, to develop a county-wide plan for home visiting — and that plan is being implemented now. Read more about that motion here, and learn more about the Consortium at HomeVisitingLA.org.