Today, more than 500 home visiting researchers, service providers, policymakers, and advocates are gathered for the Third National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs in Washington, D.C. The two-day summit is co-sponsored by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Every Child Succeeds, and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Below is an excerpt from the opening remarks by Libby Doggett, director of Pew’s home visiting campaign:
"I’m Libby Doggett, and I have the privilege of leading Pew’s home visiting campaign, which is a part of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. We apply a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share our commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society..."
There are two main goals of our home visiting campaign. The first is to advance state policies that prioritize investments in the highest quality programs and create accountability systems to help achieve the strongest outcomes for children and families. Second, we lead a comprehensive, policy-relevant research agenda. We’re excited to share the findings from much of this research at this summit.
Last year, working with key local partners, we helped pass legislation in three states: Iowa, Maryland, and Michigan. This year we are working in six more: Arkansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Texas, and Vermont--and one county, which is actually home to more children than many states, Los Angeles County.
The policy framework put in place through our home visiting legislation directs funding to evidence-based and promising programs, clearly articulates the outcomes that states want to achieve through their home visiting investment, and requires data collection not only for continuous quality improvement but, critically, for monitoring outcomes across their home visiting system. The statutes passed in Iowa, Maryland and Michigan require, for the first time, reporting on program outcomes which will allow the states, over time, to calculate a return on investment of their home visiting dollars and measure and report outcomes across agencies.
We hope the joint process of reporting will enhance the coordination between child welfare, education, and public health agencies. Our legislation is intended to be a catalyst for creating a culture of mutual accountability and shared problem solving among state agencies and between agencies and home visiting programs.
By building higher performing state home visiting systems that use data to improve program quality and measure outcomes we hope to continue to clarify and better understand where and how the portfolio of home visiting services is most effective. For example: What are the differences in outcomes between urban and rural settings? Which programs have the most impact in helping families grappling with maternal depression or substance abuse? And how does the community context impact service delivery and outcomes?
From our national perspective we have gained a great respect for what many of you are doing in the states every day.
In addition, as I mentioned earlier, we have been busy on the research front. Pew is excited to share with you 12 studies which are part of the "next generation" of home visiting research. This work grew out of a desire to support a research agenda aimed at increasing policymakers' confidence in and commitment to home visiting and expanding the body of knowledge needed to improve services for families. We’d like to thank the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, whose funding made this research possible.
The studies deepen our understanding of those program elements that are essential to success, ways to improve existing models, and factors to consider in tailoring home visiting to local contexts and particular target populations.
The research underscores the fact that being "evidence-based" is not a one-time event. Instead, we need continued evaluation and monitoring of home visiting services in order to maximize effectiveness as programs expand to serve a great diversity of families in various parts of the country. Several of the studies identify key challenges policymakers need to address as they expand state programs.
Specifically, the reports detail:
You all have received a copy of the current Zero to Three Journal, which features five of the studies and a policy brief expanding on more of the findings. To see the complete studies, I encourage you to visit our website at pewstates.org/home-visiting-research.