Home-Start’s home visiting family support service does not
make enough of a difference to warrant its cost, an evaluation has
The research finding follows the government’s announcement
that it plans to increase the funding for the charity, which offers
home visits by volunteers to families with children under five.
In the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s study, researchers
compared 80 young families which received Home-Start support with
82 similar families which did not, and found that Home-Start did
not make a significant difference.
At the start of the research most of the mothers in both of the
groups were experiencing severe parental stress and depressive
symptoms. But at an eleven month follow up the well-being of both
groups had improved, but this seemed to be due to time and
experience. Given the costs involved in providing Home-Start the
researchers concluded that the service was not cost effective.
However, mothers who received the support of a Home-Start
volunteer said that it had made a positive difference to their
lives and most of them valued the support and friendship.
Many mothers felt that the intensity of the service – on
average two and a half hours per week – was insufficient to make a
significant difference, states the report.
The government has pledged £2.46m funding for the charity
during 2004-5 followed by £2.59m in 2005-6.