Issues Related to Delivering an Early Childhood Home-Visiting Program

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Abstract

Purpose

To describe the issues related to delivering an early childhood home visiting program, BabyFirst, from the perspective of public health nurses and lay home visitors (paraprofessionals).

Study Design and Methods

This descriptive, qualitative interpretive study had a sample of 24 public health nurses and 14 lay home visitors. One in-depth, semi-structured, audio-taped interview was conducted with each participant. Transcribed data were analyzed using content analysis techniques.

Results

Public health nurses and lay home visitors identified several issues associated specifically with the use of lay home visitors and more broadly with the delivery of the BabyFirst program. These are discussed in the following categories: issues related to (a) the lay home visitors, (b) the BabyFirst families, and (c) the general administration of the program.

Clinical Implications

Findings from this study provide information about the issues related to providing home-visiting services delivered by lay home visitors that can be applied to policy and practice development. The findings suggest that in addition to careful selection of prospective applicants, considerable resources should be provided in preparing public health nurses and home visitors for their respective roles. The concerns identified by nurses and home visitors suggest the need to target the following three areas: (a) training and retention of nurses and home visitors, (b) program delivery, and (c) enrollment of families. Attention to the issues discussed in this article has implications for improving the BabyFirst home-visiting program and other similar early childhood programs.

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