Reinventing the Way We Measure Family Outcomes
The lack of family focus and inability to measure family outcomes has many people wondering if we need to reevaluate this entire process. Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood recently publicly proclaimed their initiative to reinvent how government organizations can interact with families. The goal of this new method is to measure the outcomes of voluntary at-home visits and acknowledging when financial incentive is reasonable.
Connecticut has been at the forefront of many advancements in the past, and they are once again leading the country in a more positive direction. As the first program of its kind, the department is working to join parental programs and welfare policies while incentivizing success.
What are Home Visitation Services?
These services include any involvement of a trained professional nurse, peer educator, or social worker. Previously the Office of Early Childhood had different policies governing each aspect of home visitation services.
Now, the focus is on working with families, not just the children. During home visitation services, the professionals involved will observe, interact, and report on child and parent well-being. Even medical aspects such as brain development and growth milestones, which seem limited to the child involved, can impact the parent’s daily life as well.
Programs which provide home visitation services include:
- Healthy Families of America
- Nurse-Family Partnership
- Parents as Teachers
The programs all strive to provide parents with professional help to:
- Develop parenting skills
- Support social development
- Support emotional development
- Build the relationship between parent and child
Home visitation services have had a substantial impact on family outcomes. When families can access these programs and develop within their homes, children show increased well-being. Parents also show improvement in returning to work or school.
What is the Best Way to Measure Family Outcomes?
At-risk people and families, which contain at-risk individuals, need guidance. They also need tangible metrics to identify successful outcomes from program failure. The Office of Early Childhood now uses a rate card system.
What defines success and what is available for the state to “purchase” for families? There are four metrics on Connecticut’s rate card:
- Healthy Birth
- Safe Children
- Family Stability
- Caregiver Employment
The rate card system comes with two sides. First is a clear standard of expectations for families. Second, it’s a type of menu which the state will “order” from, and the family should deliver in exchange for a financial initiative.
Where is this funding coming from? Although some of it is through government funding, much of it also comes from the philanthropic community.
Those deemed “at-risk,” including infants, children, and parents have access to services through the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood. Since Connecticut announced their initiative, many private programs, and regionalized county or state offices outside of Connecticut have adopted similar initiatives.