Implementation, Not Evidence-Base, is the Key to Home Visiting Program Success

A new report released yesterday by the Alliance for Early Success and Child Trends highlights home visiting programs as an important evidence-based policy choice for supporting families with young children. The report also notes, however, that “selecting an evidence-based model alone is not a guarantee of effectiveness” and points to implementation as a key determinant of whether or not children and families benefit from home visiting programs:

“When programs are carefully implemented, participation in home visiting programs has been linked to improved parenting practices (such as increased sensitivity and reduced detachment), increases in maternal education, and the creation of more stable and nurturing environments for children.”

The importance of implementation is central to CFRP’s evaluation of the Texas Home Visiting Program (THV). With federal funding from the 2010 Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), Texas developed THV, which aims to ensure that Texas children ages zero to five are healthy and prepared for school. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) contracted with CFRP to evaluate the implementation and outcomes of THV. CFRP is conducting an ongoing study of the factors that advance or limit the successful implementation of THV across seven communities in Texas.

Despite how critical careful implementation is to the success of home visiting programs, research about home visiting implementation is scarce. CFRP’s work evaluating the implementation of THV will add to researchers’ understanding of how implementation in community-level contexts compares to what is intended by the home visiting models. As the factors that advance or limit successful implementation of home visiting programs are illuminated, home visiting programs will be better able to support families with young children.

-Kaeley Benson, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow