Home visiting programs aim to help low-income parents enhance their parenting skills and improve a host of early health and developmental outcomes for young children. Programs match families with professionals and paraprofessionals who visit families in their home during pregnancy and throughout early childhood. Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs has an extensive body of research on the effectiveness and value of home visiting programs as an early childhood intervention.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Division contracted with CFRP to conduct a study of home visiting services in Texas. The study examined the changes in delivery of services and the evolving needs of families and Texas Home Visiting (THV) providers during the pandemic.
The aims of the study were to:
Assess how the needs of home visitors and the families they serve changed during the COVID-19 pandemic,
Assess how home visiting services changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
Assess challenges and successes for families and home visitors resulting from service delivery changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and
Assess the lessons learned for long-term service delivery.
Through surveys and focus groups, CFRP collected original data from THV program leads and home visitors from the 30 MIECHV-funded Parents as Teachers (PAT), Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) programs in Texas.
Concluding the study in October 2020, CFRP findings included:
Almost all home visitors switched to conducting all home visits virtually in response to the pandemic and continued to provide virtual services through the summer using a variety of modalities across their caseload, including video calls, phone calls, email, and text.
Some families did not have the tools needed for virtual home visits, did not know how to use video conferencing, or could no longer prioritize home visiting among other demands and new challenges.
Though home visitors felt confident in their ability to provide high-quality services virtually, they acknowledged limitations to identifying and addressing health and safety concerns among approximately one-fourth of THV families and all NFP families.
Home visitors reported that, in the future, a blended approach of in-person and virtual services after the pandemic would benefit families by providing more scheduling flexibility.
Final report is forthcoming. For more on on CFRP's work on home visiting, go to Early Childhood Investments > Home Visiting.
The Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) is an independent, nonpartisan research group at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin directed by Associate Dean Dr. Cynthia Osborne. CFRP advances evidence-informed policymaking for children and their parents through rigorous research and collaboration. CFRP is also home to the national Prenatal-to-Three Policy Impact Center.