Connecting Every Child to a Healthy Future

Illuminate Colorado is partnering with Family Connects International® to begin to bring FREE home visiting to all families with newborns in Colorado. Family Connects Colorado, a new program of Illuminate Colorado, has the potential to impact every baby born in Colorado.

Illuminate Colorado is currently working in Boulder and Eagle counties to begin to offer Family Connects to all families in these areas starting in late 2022 and Denver and Jefferson counties in early 2023.

Family Connects Colorado

A program of Illuminate Colorado in partnership with Family Connects International®

Family Connects – coming soon to Colorado – is an evidence-based model and successfully demonstrated program that connects parents of newborns to the community resources they need through postpartum nurse home visits.

About the Model

For Baby

  • Baby weight check
  • Safe sleep information
  • Infant feeding and fussiness
  • Help with bathing, diapering and swaddling

For Mom

  • Mom’s health check
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Family planning advice
  • Postpartum depression screening

For Family

  • Scheduling doctor’s appointments
  • Understanding child care options
  • Early literacy information
  • Community connections

What Families Can Expect

  • 3 weeks in: Expect a visit around 3 weeks after birth
  • No cost: As a parent(s) of a newborn, there is no additional cost to you, no matter what your income level
  • Registered nurses: All nurses are highly skilled professionals
  • For all: Helping all families in a community with a newborn who delivered at a partner hospital
Family Connects Model

The Family Connects model is an evidence-based approach to supporting all newborns and their families. By reaching all families in a community, Family Connects improves health outcomes at the population level.

Every family needs support after bringing home a baby. The needs are different in each family – from help with feeding and safe sleep to getting information about child care and parenting groups. Family Connects links parents to the individual community resources they need.

The Evidence

Family Connects is an evidence-based model that supports all families welcoming a new baby. When Family Connects is implemented with high quality, research demonstrates that families are stronger, children’s lives are enhanced, and communities save money. Two randomized controlled trials of Family Connects (formerly called Durham Connects and conducted in Durham, NC) have been conducted.

An ongoing randomized controlled trial of Family Connects began in 2009. Results have shown:

  • Emergency room visits and hospital overnight stays were reduced by 50% in the first year of life; these results were sustained but did not increase through the second year of life.
  • Mothers were 28% less likely to report possible postpartum clinical anxiety.
  • Mothers reported significantly more positive parenting behaviors, like hugging, comforting and reading to their infants; no significant differences were found in negative parenting behaviors.
  • Mothers expressed increased responsivity to, and acceptance of, their infants.
  • Home environments were improved — homes were safer and had more learning materials to support infant development.
  • Community connections increased by 15%.
  • When using out of home childcare, families used higher quality care.

A second randomized controlled trial took place in 2014. Results from this trial have shown:

  • Families had 44% lower rates of Child Protective Services investigations for suspected child abuse or neglect through child age 2; 39% lower investigation rates through child age 5.
  • Community connections increased by 13%.
  • Mothers were 30% less likely to experience possible postpartum depression or anxiety.
  • Families were more likely to use out-of-home childcare.
  • As the number of birth risks increased, infants experienced fewer emergency department visits but more hospital overnights.
  • Mothers were more likely to complete their 6-week postpartum health check, but also had more emergency department visits.

Results from research on the Family Connects model has been published in a number of journals, including Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, and JAMA Network Open. This formative research has been led by FCI’s founder Dr. Kenneth Dodge and our Director for Research and Innovation, Dr. Ben Goodman

How Family Connects Colorado Works

As the state intermediary, Illuminate Colorado is partnering with Family Connects International to work with communities to plan for the model’s implementation and sustainability. We help establish community networks, and train the nurses who will conduct the home visits.

Family Connects visits are voluntary. Newborns’ primary caregivers, including foster and adoptive parents, are offered a Family Connects visit shortly after the baby’s birth. Often this invitation is extended in the hospital. But families of newborns learn of the program via other channels as well, such as pediatricians, OB-GYNs, and community agencies.

Registered nurses visit the homes of the newborns in their communities, providing health checks for both the infant and the birth mother. The nurse is trained to make a systematic assessment of the family’s strengths, risks and needs, to offer supportive guidance on a wide variety of child and infant health, and to connect families with the additional community resources and services that meet their individual needs. The nurse documents the visit — including the physical assessments and community referrals — and relays the appropriate information to the family’s health-care providers.

In some cases, the nurse recommends longer-term programs, such as Healthy Families America, Early Head Start, and other community resources and supports. This makes Family Connects an excellent gateway to more family support services.

How to Get Family Connects in Your Community

Launching a new Family Connects program takes time and depends on community readiness. During the planning phase of work, the Illuminate Colorado and Family Connects International team provides consultation regarding all aspects of program development, including: identifying an organizational home for the program; creating a community advisory board; developing a learning agenda/evaluation plan; and providing guidance on budgeting and staffing.

When implementing Family Connects in any community, the goal is to integrate with existing community services and complement that which is already being done. Implementing partners may include local nonprofit organizations, health departments, hospital systems, state-wide early childhood, education or health systems, physician groups and/or universities.

Learn more about Core components for Implementing Family Connects from Family Connects International

Building the capacity for Family Connects may seem daunting at first. But Illuminate Colorado and Family Connects International staff is with you every step of the way, providing training, support and guidance.

Because it is part of the continuum of care for newborns and their parents, implementing the Family Connects model requires ownership and commitment from community members and other stakeholders. Communities must adhere to the evidence-based protocols to achieve certification. Costs for training and certification vary by a community’s size.

Contact Illuminate Colorado to get started!

Family Connects Return on Investment

The Family Connects model can yield significant health-care cost savings (based on emergency room visits and hospital overnights) – as much as $3 saved for every $1 spent.

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