The Future of Social Service Delivery: Balancing In-Person and Virtual Services

CFRP Policy Brief | B.046.0921

September 2021
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The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated major changes to service delivery for MIECHV-funded home visiting in Texas. Almost all providers adapted by switching to a virtual service delivery model. To study these changes, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Prevention and Early Intervention Division (PEI), which oversees MIECHV-funded home visiting in Texas, contracted with Dr. Cynthia Osborne and the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

Home visitors found that families valued virtual services. Families appreciated the convenience of virtual services and found scheduling and re-scheduling visits easier. Families also sometimes felt more comfortable sharing their personal information with home visitors in the virtual environment. Home visitors also note that they may be able to serve more families with limited resources if some components of home visiting remain virtual.

However, new challenges also arose. Families often could not conduct visits over video because they did not have the needed technology or skills. Similarly, home visitors often needed new equipment to effectively work from home. Home visitors generally agree that recruiting, building relationships with new clients, and conducting formal assessments are activities best completed in person.

The key lessons learned during the study provide insight for providers across the spectrum of social services who are considering how to serve clients in the future, specifically providers considering offering a blend of in-person and virtual options.

Learn more in the full brief here (PDF)

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