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At DCF, we’re dedicated to making sure that all New Jersey residents have an opportunity to be safe, healthy and connected.

And we understand that safe infants and healthy families first begin with safe, healthy mothers. We offer a multifaceted continuum of services around maternal and early childhood health. The common thread through all of the DCF services is that they are provided early, protect women and infants, promote positive outcomes all to prevent tragedy. 

Through our partnership with the Department of Health, we have established a statewide network of Central Intake hubs to guide pregnant women and their families to the services and supports that are available in their own communities.

The county-level Central Intake hubs provide a vital linkage between programs and eligible participants, connecting new parents with the supports and local services that promote child and family wellness with consideration to language needs and cultural competency.

The Central Intake program has been successful for those parents who take it upon themselves to seek out services within the community, but our home visiting model has been a lifeline for many parents who may not know where to turn for help. Home Visiting is an evidence-based prevention strategy for delivering services, education and referrals to improve maternal and child health directly to families, within their own homes.

Through the Home Visiting programs, which is a collaboration between DCF, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services, nurses, social workers, early childhood educators and other professionals provide support in the homes of families who participate on a voluntary basis.

The ultimate goal of Home Visiting is to improve maternal and child health, family functioning and stability, and child and family well-being, resulting in a reduction in child maltreatment rates and reported abuse and neglect.

In 2018, across all 21 counties in NJ, seven thousand families received evidence-based home visiting services over the course of more than 73,500 home visits. This includes services to more than five thousand children birth to age five.

About fourteen hundred mothers were screened for depression and 74% of mothers who received services for Home Visiting attended a postpartum care appointment.

We must continue to support and expand programs like Home Visiting, which have a real impact in the lives of families being served by the program. These are just a few of the areas where DCF is contributing to better services and improved outcomes in the areas of maternal and childhood health.

And while there’s certainly more that can be done – in particular, initiatives like universal home visiting would vastly expand our reach and help to reduce racial and economic disparities around access to services – I’m encouraged that we have leaders such as the First Lady who recognize just what’s at stake.

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