(September 30, 2004) -- Kentucky’s HANDS home visitation for first-time parents program received the 2004 Jim Parker Memorial Award today at the annual meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The HANDS program is coordinated by the Department for Public Health in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and is a part of Kentucky’s KIDS Now statewide initiative funded through Phase One Tobacco Settlement funds.
"Kentuckians should be extremely proud of the work that is being done with first-time parents across the state through the HANDS program. HANDS is having a positive impact for these families that will continue throughout their lives," said Dr. William Hacker, Acting Commissioner of the Department for Public Health. "We continue to see more doctors creating a partnership with local health departments through referrals of families to their local HANDS programs. This award honors the contribution the HANDS program is making to build a healthier Kentucky."
The award is offered jointly by ASTHO, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the Association of State and Territorial Local Health Liaison Officials (ASTLHLO). It was established in 1993 to honor the memory of Jim Parker, who served as Director of the Community Health Services Division of the Minnesota Department of Health. Parker was a strong advocate for local and state health department collaboration and his influence extended throughout the public health community due to his work on national health efforts. State and local health departments are eligible for the award.
The HANDS program is a voluntary home visitation program for new and expectant first-time parents, which aims to create positive health and social outcomes through education and consultation. The program started in 1999 in 15 local health departments with 952 families, and has increased each year. HANDS served 22,696 families as of August 31, 2004 and is now one of the largest home visitation programs in the nation.
Monthly, over 9,000 home visits focus on basic care, social and emotional development, cues and communication, physical and brain development, as well as play and stimulations. Children receive developmental screening to ensure appropriate milestones are met. Goal setting and childproofing homes for safety are also included.
A three-year average evaluation of the results of the HANDS program when compared to a contrast group of first-time parents not participating showed 10 percent fewer premature births, 11 percent fewer low birth weight babies, 42 percent fewer very low birth weight babies, 58 percent less instances of substantiated physical abuse, and 62 percent less instances of substantiated neglect.