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PEER collaborates with Stamford partners to promote continuous improvement of home visiting services for the families of young children

June 30, 2022
by Joanna Meyer

As shared in a previous article, the Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER) has joined two partnerships formed in 2021 to expand access to home visiting services for the families of young children with the support of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC). Greater Stamford Parenting Partnership (GSPP) is a collaboration between Family Centers, Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, Stamford Cradle to Career (SC2C), Child Development Infoline (CDI, also known as 211 Child Development), and PEER.

The OEC grant to GSPP primarily funds the delivery of home visiting services by Family Centers and Child Guidance Center. These organizations use two different evidence-based models to support positive parenting and healthy child development: Family Centers operates a Parents as Teachers (PAT) program and CGC uses the Child First model. The role of SC2C, CLC, and CDI in GSPP is to help families connect to home visiting services and supports for the families of young children. PEER’s role is to support the continuous improvement of GSPP’s efforts to engage and serve families. Other GSPP members include Help for Kids, Saint Joseph Parenting Center, and ROSCCO.

Over GSPP’s first year, PEER has worked closely with the Family Centers and Child Guidance Center home visiting teams to design and implement continuous quality improvement (CQI) projects that can inform GSPP member organizations. The first CQI project aimed to understand families’ enrollment in Sparkler, a mobile app designed to support child development through developmental screening and off-screen play activities. PEER worked with Family Centers and Child Guidance Center to design a short questionnaire for home visitors to complete after offering to assist clients with Sparkler enrollment. The questionnaire collected information about whether families decided to enroll in Sparkler and, if not, what reasons they gave. Of the 47 family conversations logged by home visitors, 22 families were already enrolled in Sparkler, 10 new families enrolled, and 17 did not enroll. Families who chose not to enroll gave reasons like having no space on their phone, limited internet access, and thinking the app did not sound useful. This effort helped GSPP understand the obstacles to Sparkler enrollment.

The second CQI project aims to understand families’ engagement with home visiting services. As well as exploring families’ overall experiences with home visiting, GSPP wanted to learn about barriers to enrollment and participation. The first phase of this project involved a review of the research literature on home visiting that identified individual, interpersonal, organizational, and community factors associated with participation in home visiting. For example, research suggests that parental age, perceived stigma related to home visiting, and the orientation of programs towards mothers may influence families’ decisions to enroll.

PEER, Family Centers, and Child Guidance Center used information from this literature review to design new survey questions that could be added to the Family Centers annual PAT family survey to illuminate barriers to and facilitators of engagement in home visiting. The goal is for home visitors from Family Centers and Child Guidance Center to help each client access the survey during a visit and provide time for each client to complete it. PEER will process the results of this confidential survey and report back to the Family Centers and Child Guidance Center teams, as well as to the broader GSPP group. The next phase will be to interview a subset of clients to better understand their decisions to participate in home visiting. GSPP anticipates that future projects will aim to learn from families that are offered home visiting services and decline to participate.

In addition to GSPP, PEER is working in parallel with the Greater Norwalk Home Visiting Partnership (GNHVP), whose core partners are Family & Children’s Agency, Odyssey Family Executive Center of South Norwalk, Inc., and Maritime Odyssey Preschool. A future article will feature the work of GNHVP.

Submitted by Joanna Meyer on June 30, 2022