Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S690) to establish a statewide universal newborn home visitation program in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
This landmark program, to be provided at no cost to the family is aimed at improving New Jersey’s maternal and infant health outcomes for all New Jersey families.
The program will provide a registered nurse to conduct home visits for all mothers and newborns within two weeks of birth, including for adoptive and resource parents, as well as those families who experience stillbirths.
Home visits will feature an evidence-based evaluation of the physical, emotional, and social factors affecting parents and their newborn including physical and mental health wellness checks, breastfeeding support and reproductive planning, environmental assessments of the home, and assessments for social determinants of health, such as food security, transportation access, childcare planning, and employment to ensure families have their needs identified and met.
By signing this legislation, New Jersey will have the most comprehensive and robust universal home visitation program in the nation, advancing New Jersey as a national model for maternal and infant care.
In January 2021, First Lady Tammy Murphy unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, which aims to reduce maternal mortality in the state by 50 percent over five years and eliminate the racial disparities in birth outcomes, in which a universal home visitation program was a key recommendation of the strategy.
“As any parent will tell you, the first few days, weeks and months of becoming a parent can be overwhelming and scary. Children don’t come with an instruction manual,” said New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “In the field of child welfare, we know that young children — particularly birth until five — are at the highest risk of becoming victims of child abuse and neglect, with infants being the most vulnerable. Through the provision of universal home visiting, we can offer education and support, identify potential challenges early and refer out to additional services if needed. The universality ensures that all families have equal access to the same critical resources and supports, without stigma, that will enhance the health and well-being of the entire family.”
Primary sponsors of the legislation include Senators Teresa Ruiz and Joseph Vitale, and Assemblymembers Shanique Speight, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and John Armato.