Child maltreatment has often been associated with the intentional abuse and neglect of minors. Prevention strategies, therefore, strive to provide practical intervention schemes that drastically lower risk factors associated with maltreatment and improve outcomes for exposed individuals. The creation of a workable prevention strategy is often done after careful consideration of the child, community and society. Therefore, early childhood home visitation will be explored as a promising strategy for addressing child maltreatment.
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Early Childhood Home Visitation
One of the short-term goals of the early childhood home visitation strategy is to make sure that trained personnel make frequent stopovers to homes to assess child development and progress. The presence of trained staff reduces episodes of maltreatment since primary caregivers become conscious of the importance of remaining truthful about a child’s welfare.
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Trained personnel also conduct visits to educate the parents on best parenting practices. According to Azzi-Lessing (2011), there are numerous recorded cases of abuse and neglect that can be attributed to a general lack of information concerning parenting practices (392). Trained personnel, therefore, seek to equip parents with invaluable parenting knowledge that will eventually enable them to provide care that is up to par.
The presence of trained personnel during early childhood home visitations also seeks to appraise the status of the juveniles in question. Often, trained personnel are capable of assessing the conditions under which a child is living and make an informed decision regarding any need for intervention. In most instances, they observe and report child maltreatment cases as soon as they witness them during routine home visits.
One of the main long-term goals of early childhood home visitations is to educate primary caregivers and provide them with relevant information about care. According to Roggman & Cardia (2015), 2 out of 5 parents unintentionally abuse and neglect their children due to a general lack of information regarding best parenting practices (40). As a long-term objective, therefore, focuses on filling this void of ignorance and which eventually prevents child maltreatment.
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Early childhood home visitations also seek to equip parents with relevant knowledge about children’s welfare. Rendering Votruba-Drzal (2017), a parent’s experience comes in handy when attempting to prevent abuse as it improves their belief system and influences their subsequent actions (28). In addition to this, parents also receive a level of social support by the person visiting their home which helps them implement the best parenting practices.
Required Actions and Responsibilities
It is fundamental to maintain direct contact with primary caregivers to know their whereabouts at all times. This particular action makes it possible for trained personnel to schedule visits where they can assess the well-being of the child in question. They are also in a better position to make practical and necessary recommendations that will ultimately influence a child’s welfare.
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Trained personnel also have to ensure that they possess appropriate knowledge that would make it possible for them to achieve their goals. Self-education and group assessment, therefore, become critical actions that eventually determine successful goal attainment. Possession of this information also boosts confidence in personnel who ultimately share their knowledge with parents and caregivers.
One of the critical responsibilities that accompany knowledge is its dissemination to the right demography. It is vital always to ensure that vulnerable families are targeted and visited regularly by trained specialists aware of their present circumstances and challenges. By so doing, at-risk families are visited within the shortest time possible and made mindful of the importance of excellent parenting skills. Trained personnel are also expected to take this opportunity to assess the condition of individual children and whether or not they might be undergoing abuse or neglect.
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Trained personnel also should implement the use of critical services that will facilitate a transition from ignorance to full awareness of each situation. There are numerous instances when parents and caregivers abuse children without being fully aware that they may be harming a child. Actions such as substance abuse during and after pregnancy may constitute a form of abuse even though some caregivers may be ignorant of this fact. Trained personnel are, thus, uniquely tasked with making sure that they make an informed assessment of a child’s condition and decide whether or not the parents are playing their role.
An Improvement in Caregiver’s Knowledge and Attitude
Typically, it is expected that early childhood home visitations will buttress parenting skills amongst caregivers and their understanding of child development. Their views and parenting attitudes will be shaped by this knowledge, aiding them to improve their interaction with children. Parents learn to overcome their innate fears regarding parenting and gain a higher efficacy in dealing with any challenge that they may be confronted with.
Early childhood home visitations provide a unique opportunity for personnel to review the primary caregiver’s level of self-sufficiency before determining whether or not they are likely abuse and neglect their child. Their level of education and employment status usually serve as useful indicators of these parameters. For instance, unemployed caregivers with a low level of education are more likely to be unaware of actions that may constitute abuse (Wasik & Bryant, 2011, p. 22). Early childhood home visitations ensure that they are educated on abuse and neglect while introducing them to welfare programs in case they are unemployed.
A Reduction in Caregiver Anxiety while providing Social Support
Primary caregivers are usually aware of the monumental task that they have in raising a child in the best way imaginable. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that primary caregivers are often plagued by stress resulting from anxieties about good parenting. Hence, early childhood home visitations present are a form of social support that also identifies specific challenges faced by primary caregivers and appropriate coping mechanisms.
Child Advance and School Readiness
Preparing children for school is an essential parental duty. Children are reminded of their role in society and their path to independence. Early childhood home visitations allow personnel to review a child’s level of development and their readiness for enrollment in school. Moreover, parents are also exposed to specific curricula which are designed to nurture the child and expose them to a myriad of disciplines. By so doing, they can quickly pinpoint an area of interest and nurture skills instrumental in enabling them to carve out a niche in society.