A. The healthy families program is established in the department. The program shall provide services to children under five years of age and members of their families that are designed to prevent child abuse or neglect and to promote child development and wellness. The program also may provide these services to pregnant women and their families.
B. The department shall:
1. Develop standardized program eligibility criteria to be used for identifying families in greatest need of program services.
2. Develop the following program functions:
(a) Comprehensive standardized risk assessment evaluation for newborns and their families.
(b) A method to identify families that have the greatest need for program services. The department shall establish a method of disclosing to parents at the time of their admission to a hospital for childbirth that they may be contacted regarding program services.
(c) Outreach services that are conducted primarily through prescheduled home visits.
3. Establish methods that assist program participants to reduce illiteracy, reduce dependency on welfare, encourage employment, encourage self-sufficiency and encourage community involvement by program participants through community service, employment or participation in religious or social organizations.
4. Develop employment guidelines for program personnel that include background checks for those personnel who will have direct contact with pregnant women or families or who will have access to program participant records. Employment guidelines shall include skill development in child abuse and neglect detection and in the collection of relevant program data.
5. Track program costs.
6. Offer parents education on prenatal care.
7. Offer participants education on successful marriage.
8. Establish guidelines for requiring program participants to engage in community service activities in exchange for benefits received from the program. Participants shall be allowed to choose from a variety of community and faith-based service providers that are under contract with the department to provide community service opportunities or program services. Participants shall be allowed and encouraged to engage in community services within their own communities. Participants shall be allowed to fulfill the requirements of this paragraph by providing community services to the program from which they received services.
C. The goals of the healthy families program include:
1. Reducing child abuse and neglect.
2. Promoting child wellness and proper development.
3. Strengthening family relations.
4. Promoting family unity.
5. Reducing dependency on drugs and alcohol.
D. The healthy families program shall provide the following services to program participants:
1. Informal counseling or emotional support services.
2. Assistance in developing parenting and coping skills.
3. Education on the importance of good nutritional habits to improve the overall health of their children.
4. Education on developmental assessments so that early identification of any learning disabilities, physical disabilities or behavioral health needs are determined.
5. Education on the importance of preventative health care and the need for screening examinations such as hearing and vision.
6. Assistance and encouragement to provide age appropriate immunizations so that their children are immunized.
7. Assistance and encouragement to access comprehensive private and public preschool and other school readiness programs.
8. Assistance in applying for private and public financial assistance including employment services.
9. Assistance in accessing other applicable community and public services including employment services.
E. Program participants shall be provided with the Arizona children and families resource directory compiled under section 36-698 in order to help them answer questions concerning early childhood development.
F. Program services shall not be provided under this section unless:
1. Participation in the program is initiated in response to a request by the potential program participant.
2. A verbal explanation of the program is provided to program participants, including an explanation of the rights and responsibilities of both the participant and the program provider.
3. The written, informed consent of the program participants is received. The consent form shall include at least a clear description of the program, including the activities and information to be provided by the program during prescheduled home visits, the number of expected home visits, the right of program participants to terminate participation in the program at any time, any responsibilities of the program participants, a statement that a record will be made and maintained of the home visits and may be available in future court proceedings and any other information that is necessary to convey to the program participants a clear understanding of the program.
G. The initial contact may be in person and at any convenient location, except that if the contact occurs at the primary residence of the potential program participant, the program personnel shall not enter the residence during the initial contact without the permission of the potential program participant.
H. If the potential program participant is a minor living with the minor’s parent or guardian, home visits shall not be provided under this section without the additional written consent of the parent or guardian.
I. If any home visits are to be made by program personnel who are required to report suspected abused or neglected children pursuant to title 13, chapter 36, the consent form shall also contain a clear and conspicuous statement informing parents that the home visits will be made by a person who is required to report any instances of suspected abuse or neglect of children to the department or its successor.
J. Program participants have access to the records on their own family at all times and have the right to correct any inaccurate information included in the records. Records shall be retained for at least five years after the participants’ last involvement in the program. Program records are not available to other government agencies or programs in the department without specific prior written consent by the program participant for the release of information in the program participant’s records. Program personnel shall not wilfully include defamatory information or maliciously include derogatory information in the records. Program participants have a right of action against any program personnel for the knowing or reckless inclusion of defamatory information in the records.
K. This section does not prohibit a person from satisfying the reporting requirements of section 13-3620 or from complying with a court order to produce records.