Sustaining new parents in home visitation services: Key participant and program factors

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Date of Original Version



Objectives: As prevention efforts have adopted more intensive service models, concerns over initial enrollment and retention rates have become more salient. This study examines the participant, provider and program factors that contribute to a longer length of stay and greater number of home visits for new parents enrolling in one national home visitation program. Methods: Retrospective data were collected on a random sample of 816 participants served by one of 17 Healthy Families America (HFA) program sites around the country. Using case record reviews, research staff documented each participant's characteristics and service experiences. To capture relevant staff and program information, research staff collected basic descriptive information from published documents and interviews with program managers. All home visitors who had contact with sample families also completed a self-assessment instrument regarding personal and professional characteristics. Hierarchical linear modeling allowed us to examine the unique role of participant, provider and program characteristics while recognizing the lack of independence among these three sets of variables. Results: The combined provider and program levels in the HLM model accounted for one-third of the variance in service duration and one-quarter of the variance in the number of home visits. Older participants, those unemployed, and those who enrolled in the program early in their pregnancy were more likely to remain in services longer and to complete a greater number of home visits. Compared to White participants, African Americans and Hispanics were significantly more likely to remain in services longer and, in the case of African Americans, to receive a greater number of home visits. Participants who were enrolled in school were more likely to remain in services longer. Age was the only consistent provider characteristic associated with positive results in both models, with younger home visitors performing better. Prior experience showed a significant relationship only in the service dosage model and African American workers demonstrated greater success than White home visitors did in retaining families in service. At the program level, programs with lower caseloads and greater success in matching their participants and providers on parenting status and race/ethnicity were significantly more likely to demonstrate stronger enrollment patterns. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Child Abuse and Neglect