Recent studies show a Kentucky program that works with needy parents improves the health and development of their children. Health Access Nurturing Development Services, or HANDS, started as a pilot program in 1998 as a way to combat child abuse. Now the program is in all 120 Kentucky counties and has served more than 60,000 families since 2000.
Research from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville has found that HANDS participants have 32 percent fewer pre-term births than similar populations. They also have a 70 percent lower overall infant mortality and 50 percent fewer emergency room visits. Babies in the program have fewer developmental delays. And mothers are more likely to breast-feed their babies and to complete or further their education.