Early childhood home visiting programs support pregnant women and families with young children so they can be healthy, safe, and better prepared to reach their goals. The success of these programs is dependent upon recruiting and retaining a skilled, committed, and satisfied workforce. This brief summarizes findings from the Home Visiting Career Trajectories study—a national study of the home visiting workforce—on workplace factors in recruiting and retaining qualified staff.
Primary Research Questions
- What are the characteristics of home visitors and their supervisors, including their demographics, qualifications, and employment history?
- What are the characteristics of home visiting jobs, including schedules, compensation, and benefits?
- What factors contribute to the recruitment and retention of home visitors?
A stable and well-trained workforce is a critical part of effective home visiting program implementation. To support MIECHV awardees, local programs, and home visiting model developers recruit, train, and retain qualified staff, more information is needed on the career pathways and work experiences of home visitors and their supervisors.
This brief presents findings from a national descriptive study of the home visiting workforce in local agencies receiving MIECHV funding with a focus on the workplace factors that relate to home visitor recruitment and retention.
Key Findings and Highlights
Analyses of case study data point to the following key findings:
- Home visitors reported that a flexible agency culture contributes to successful recruitment and hiring practices. Key informants suggested that implementing innovative practices to identify candidates who are a good fit for the job can, in turn, promote retention.
- Home visitors identified several workplace features that boost morale and make them feel valued, including collegiality, mutual trust, autonomy, and flexibility. Home visitors indicated that rigid environments (e.g., inflexibility with regard to teleworking, schedules, etc.) contributed to job dissatisfaction.
- Home visitors repeatedly cited supervisory support—both in the forms of reflective supervision and more informal gestures, such as workplace incentives—as a key factor in home visitors’ decisions to remain in their job.
The project includes two major components: (1) a two-stage national survey of the home visiting workforce in local implementing agencies (LIAs) receiving funding from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, and (2) case studies in eight states involving interviews with program leaders and supervisory staff, as well as focus groups with home visitors in 26 LIAs.
Findings for this brief draw primarily on case study findings.
Benatar, Sarah, Amelia Coffey, and Heather Sandstrom. 2020. How Workplace Supports Relate to Home Visitor Recruitment and Retention. OPRE Report #2020-97. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Early childhood home visiting: a service delivery strategy for achieving greater child and family health and well-being. Local home visiting programs connect new and expecting parents with a designated support person—a trained nurse, social worker, parent educator, or early childhood specialist—who provides services in the home. Services generally consist of screening, case management, family support or counseling, and caregiver skills training.
Local implementing agency (LIA): a local organization, such as a community action agency, community nonprofit, or public health or education department, that receives funding to implement home visiting services under MIECHV. States, territories, and tribes work with LIAs to train a high-quality home visiting workforce, establish data reporting and financial accountability systems, and develop recruitment and referral networks.
Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program: administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program was established in 2010 to support voluntary, evidence-based home visiting for at-risk pregnant women and parents with children up to kindergarten entry. The program provides grants to states, US territories, and tribes, which conduct needs assessments to identify eligible at-risk communities and serve priority populations.