Program Evaluation for Ohio Department of Health Isolates Characteristics for Success
In 2016, Measurement Resources Company, in collaboration with The Rucks Company, contracted with the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Help Me Grow program to conduct research related to its Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. The MIECHV Program helps to identify and reduce risk behaviors and promote positive partnering, which can only be achieved through ongoing family engagement and participation in the home visiting program.
A total of 60 home visitors and 485 families were included in the study, which helped establish baselines for ongoing monitoring and metrics. The data revealed that families were spending an average of 1.6 years in the program and typically received a total of 36 home visits during that time. While families reported high levels of satisfaction with the quality of the home visitors they interacted with, Measurement Resources isolated the precise characteristics that directly correlated to these high satisfaction rates.
When the primary caregivers’ perceptions of program fit were high, the time period for home visiting extended 149 days. Child engagement during home visits also increased by 24% with the primary caregivers’ perceptions of higher program fit.
Family engagement also hinged on the quality of the interpersonal helping relationship between the home visitor and the primary caregiver. Likewise, the perceptions of the home visitors’ own interpersonal skills, as well as confidence in their training and general job satisfaction, helped empower them to develop helping relationships. These two factors had a significant impact, increasing home visits by five visits per family.
Additionally, when primary caregivers’ perceptions of the home visitors were that the home visitors were of a similar background and culturally competent, an 11% increase in engagement occurred. Child engagement also increased by 14% when the home visitor demonstrated higher cultural competency.
Based on these findings, Measurement Resources provided ODH with recommendations for increasing home visiting effectiveness. From focusing efforts on increasing the cultural competency of home visitors and devoting increased attention to matching home visitors with participating families, to improving training opportunities to improve the quality of interpersonal interactions, ODH now has multiple strategies for continuously working toward improved outcomes.