Home-Start schemes have been established in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda and the United Kingdom. Each national Home-Start scheme or association will support families with at least one child under five.
The original Home-Start programme was set up in Leicester, UK in 1973 by Margaret Harrison. John Bowlby describes it as a "home-visiting scheme which offers support, friendship, and practical assistance to young families experiencing difficulties. It is staffed by volunteers who work in close liaison with the related statuary services and who also receive support and guidance from a professional. All visits are by invitation of the family and on their own terms. There are no contracts and no time limits". He says "Often visiting is started whilst a mother is still pregnant. Most of those visited are young, impulsive, and dreadfully isolated and have never experienced affection, care, or security. In such cases the principal role of the volunteer is to mother the mother and so, by example, to encourage her to mother her own child. She will also talk and play with the children, again providing the mother with an example she has never had."
An evaluation of the pioneer project surveyed a random sample of one in five of 288 families visited and on a 3-point scale (no change, some change, considerable change) 85% of the families surveyed claimed considerable change and only two believed there was no change. The health visitors were almost as enthusiastic and even half of the volunteers claimed considerable change. It is not considered suitable in cases of chronic mental illness, serious degenerative illness, recidivism or people intent on children being admitted to care.
It became a national organisation in 1981 with 9 branches (now over 300) and Home Start International was founded in 1998. It now has branches in 22 countries on 5 continents. Margaret Harrison's account "Hooray! Here Comes Tuesday: The Home-start Story" was published by Bamaha Publishing in 2003 and she was appointed a CBE in recognition of her work for the community.
Around the world, Home-Start supports families through local schemes, recruiting volunteers and staff locally. Many schemes are run as independent charities or non-profit organisations, with their own independent management committees or boards.
The majority of schemes are also part of a national association, which is itself generally an independent charity or non-profit organisation. Governance structures vary from country to country, but all Home-Start national associations have professional staff and a management committee or board.
Home-Start International is largely funded by philanthropic trusts and foundations and by corporate partners. In 2007-08 major funders include The Oak Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation.
Home-Start schemes and national associations around the world are funded by a mix of private, corporate, government and philanthropic giving.
- Harrison, M. (1981), "Home-Start: a voluntary home-visiting scheme for young families", Child Abuse and Neglect, 5: 441–97, doi:10.1016/0145-2134(81)90054-5
- Bowlby, John (1988), A Secure Base, Routledge, pp. 107–8
- Bowlby 1988, p. 109
- van der Eycken, W. (1982), Home-start: a four year evaluation, Home-Start Consultancy, Leicester
- Harrison 1981
- Our Structure and History, Home-Start, archived from the original on 4 May 2006, retrieved 26 Aug 2012
- Home-Start International
- Home-Start National (Australia) Inc.
- HoSt Home-Start Czech Republic
- Home-Start Denmark
- Home-Start Familiekontakten Norway
- Otthon Segítünk Alapítvány Home-Start Hungary
- Home-Start landelijk steunpunt The Netherlands
- Home-Start UK
- Home-Start SA
- Home-Start Hastings & Rother - supporting local families in coastal East Sussex