New Brief Highlights Importance of Father Involvement

A new brief from the National Home Visiting Resource Center highlights the importance of father involvement in young children’s early development and learning – and offers strategies home visiting programs can use to engage them.

Father Engagement in Home Visiting: Benefits, Challenges, and Promising Strategies notes early involvement produces measurable benefits to the father, his partner and the child. These benefits occur regardless of whether the father and child live together.

Despite the evidence, home visiting programs face barriers in successfully engaging fathers according to the brief.  These include misperceptions that program are only for mothers, concerns about safety issues, scheduling issues and inadequate curricula and training to help staff address the needs of both parents.

The brief outlines five promising strategies home visiting programs can use to overcome barriers and profiles available curricula supporting fathers.

Parish is New MIECHV Project Director

Allison Parish will take over leadership of the FL MIECHV initiative on Monday! Allison has been serving as the Assistant Project Director for the program, overseeing program implementation and continuous quality improvement, as well as implementation of the Florida Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant.

Allison holds a Master’s degree in Counseling and Human Systems and has Education Specialist degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling. She recently earned endorsement as an Infant Mental Health Mentor in Policy. Prior to joining FAHSC in 2013, she spent 10 years at the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida working with Healthy Families Florida, and worked in the mental health system prior to moving into the prevention field. She serves on numerous advisory groups and enjoys working with colleagues to improve the early childhood system. Allison is married and has twin boys in the third grade who keep her busy when she is not at work.

Congratulations, Allison!

FL MIECHV’s CQI Efforts Featured in New Resource

FL MIECHV’s CQI efforts are featured in a new HRSA publication, “Lessons from the Field: Using Performance Data to Inform CQI.” This resource highlights the integration of performance data into CQI processes using case-specific examples from Florida, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The publication includes strategies used by the states in forming a CQI team, selecting a topic for improvement, developing a SMART aim, using data, and promoting peer learning.  It also includes a toolkit to guide CQI activities. Learn more about FL MIECHV’s CQI work here.

FL MIECHV Posts Improvements in Statewide Performance

Statewide performance of FL MIECHV sites—an indicator of program impact — improved across most measures included in its 2018 annual report to the Health & Human Services Administration (HRSA). Collectively, the state improved or maintained high performance levels in 15 of 19 reported measures from 2017 to 2018. Notable advances include:

  • Tobacco Referrals increased from 35% to 91%,
  • Daily Early Language & Literacy activities moved from 56% to 71%, and
  • Completed Depression Referrals went from 9% to 23%.

The annual performance report highlights program activities in six benchmark areas: Maternal & Child Health; Child Injuries, Abuse & Neglect and ER Use; School Readiness & Achievement; Domestic Violence; Family Economic Self-Sufficiency, and Coordination and Referrals. The 2018 submission continues progress posted in prior years in both performance and data completeness.

In FY 18, FL MIECHV faced its greatest challenges in working with families to achieve self-sufficiency, specifically primary caregiver education and maintaining health insurance coverage.

The statewide initiative supports the implementation of three evidence-based home visiting models (Healthy Families Florida, Nurse-Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers) in 25 high-need communities and four contiguous areas.  These sites provided 29,220 home visits to 2,550 families in 2018, including 1,086 pregnant woman and 2,165 children. Nearly three-fourths of program participants had incomes below the federal poverty level.

Federal funding for evidence-based home visiting and early childhood systems development is provided to states based on needs and past performance. Florida’s program has been administered since 2013 by the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions (FAHSC).

FL MIECHV Demographics & Service Utilization Report 2018 and FL MIECHV Performance Measurement Report 2018 summarize aggregate data for local sites.  Site-specific reports are also provided to local programs to help inform their quality improvement activities.  In the coming year, state CQI efforts will focus on Safe Sleep, Early Language and Literacy/Parent-Child Interaction, Parent/Caregiver Depression, and Family Engagement (Enrollment, Home Visit Completion, Retention).


2018 Home Visiting Yearbook Offers Snapshot of Services, Families & Needs

The range and reach of home visiting – and its potential for impacting more families in need – is highlighted in the 2018 Home Visiting Yearbook, released today by the National Home Visiting Resource Center (NHVC).  The report provides a snapshot of home visiting programs around the country, families benefiting from services, and unmet needs. Among the findings:

  • Evidence-based home visiting programs are available in all 50 states, as well as DC, five territories, 25 tribal communities and currently reach 53% of all counties;
  • In 2017, more than 300,000 families received more than 3.5 million home visits through these programs, including 81,000 families served by programs funded by the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) initiative.
  • About 18 million additional pregnant women and families could benefit from voluntary home visiting services nationwide.

The yearbook features state profiles, including demographic data on participants, as well as information about the models used to deliver services. According to the report, models currently implemented in Florida include Child First, Early Head Start Home-Based Option, Family Check-Up, Healthy Families America, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, Minding the Baby, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers.  Statewide, 108 local agencies operated at least one of these models.  These programs provided 310,000 home visits to more than 16,000 families in 2017.

FL MIECHV supported home visiting programs in 25 designated high-need counties and four contiguous areas.  These sites implement one of three evidence-based models: Nurse-Family Partnership, Healthy Families Florida or Parents As Teachers. In 2017, nearly 2,000 families received more than 22,000 home visits through MIECHV-funded programs.

Based on needs identified in the yearbook, an estimated 985,000 additional families in Florida could benefit from home visiting, including more than 640,000 infants and toddlers.

To provide context for the yearbook, NHVC also released a Home Visiting Primer summarizing the history of home visiting, its evidence base, demonstrated impact on critical needs, and sources of funding.

The 2018 Home Visiting Yearbook was produced by James Bell Associates and the Urban Institute.


Florida Earns “C” on 2018 Premature Birth Report Card

More than 10% of babies born in Florida in 2017 were born too soon, earning the state a “C” on the Premature Birth Report Card, released today by the March of Dimes. The overall U.S. preterm birth rate rose to 9.93% of births in 2017 from 9.85% in 2016, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Preterm birth— before 37 weeks gestation– is the leading cause of infant death in the first month of life. Babies born prematurely are at higher risk of mortality and morbidity, as well as developmental delay. FL MIECHV sites that provide services to mothers prenatally annually report the number of babies born preterm. Preterm birth rate is considered a system measure since it is influenced by a myriad of social and community factors beyond home visiting. In 2018, FL MIECHV sites reported a preterm birth rate of 10.7%, compared to 12% in the prior year.

Home visiting programs funded by MIECHV address preterm birth by focusing on key risk factors associated with prematurity and other poor birth outcomes. These risk factors include perinatal depression, intimate partner violence (IPV) and tobacco use during pregnancy. Performance on these measures by sites implementing one of three FL MIECHV-funded evidence-based home visiting models (NFP, HFF or PAT) is tracked annually and reported to HRSA.

The March of Dimes will hold its annual Florida Prematurity Prevention Summit September 29-30 at the Tampa Westshore Hilton. Register now to hear national speakers and learn more about community-based efforts to reduce preterm birth. FL MIECHV is a sponsor of the conference.

HRSA Release New Home Visiting Resource for Supporting Families Impacted by Opioids, NAS

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released a new resource today for home visiting programs working with families impacted by opioid epidemicHRSA’s Home Visiting Program: Supporting Families Impacted by Opioid Use and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome provides detailed information about the opioid epidemic, opioid use disorder (OUD), and NAS. It includes relevant research; offers strategies for MIECHV awardees and their state partners in early childhood, public health, and substance misuse and mental health treatment; and highlights promising efforts underway in several states.

Florida has experienced a 10-fold increase in NAS rates from 2002-2012. It is estimated that one NAS infant is born every 25 minutes. These trends have implications not only the care of these infants, but also for the burden and costs for both families and the health care system. Approximately 80% of hospital charges for NAS are covered by state Medicaid programs.

The FL MIECHV funded Parents as Teachers program in Pinellas County focuses on substance-involved families and collaborates closely with Operation PAR, a local treatment program.

The state Home Visiting Advisory Council will receive an update on new federal Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (CAPTA) requirements for plans of safe care, and the role of home visiting in providing follow-up support to families with babies experiencing NAS. The Council includes representatives from the state’s major home visiting programs, as well as state agencies working in public health, child protection and early learning.  The meeting will take place November 2 in Tallahassee.


FL ECCS Seeks New Place-Based Community

The FL Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) Impact initiative is seeking a place-based community to lead local systems building activities aimed at demonstrably improving developmental outcomes for children age 0-3. Interested applicants must document experience in implementing a place-based approach to address community needs, with a particular focus on children age 0-3; have established partnerships with key early childhood providers; and, be committed to using a racial equity lens in their work. Responses to the Request for Participation (RFP) will be reviewed and scored by an external objective review panel. An informational webinar will be held on October 25th at 9:30 a.m. to review the goals of the initiative and the RFP.