Florida Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) leadership have identified staff recruitment and retention as critical goals since the program began.
Staff retention is seen as a reflection of the staff recruitment process, the training and orientation provided to staff, the quality of supervision, and other supports that programs can offer to keep home visitors committed to the program. Florida has utilized several strategies to support local implementing agencies (LIAs) to improve their staff recruitment and retention in recognition that home visitors play an enormous role in family engagement with the program.
During the start-up period, the state MIECHV staff allowed the LIAs time to find the right constellation of staff. This included working with each LIA to develop their own staffing plan to best meets the needs of the LIA and community it serves, and that meets the expectations of the model. LIAs are required to notify the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions of any staffing changes so that staff turnover can be addressed as quickly as possible.
Florida MIECHV’s evaluation team at the University of South Florida conducted ten focus groups with home visitors in 2015 to better understand work-related stressors and coping strategies (Maternal and Child Health Journal (2018) 22 (Suppl 1):S62-S69). In response to these findings, Florida MIECHV rolled out a series of initiatives:
• In 2015-2016, Florida MIECHV partnered with the University of Florida to offer an eight-week intervention that includes web-based learning and two in-person retreats. Two cohorts of 25 participants in each cohort received the program. Although effective, this approach was not sustainable in the long term. In 2020, Florida MIECHV launched a new training, Mindfulness & Compassion for Home Visitors. This training will be offered at least twice a year in different locations throughout the state, making it more convenient for local programs to attend. Participants in the training will learn and experience mindfulness and compassion through teaching and several types of practices, including sitting meditation, body scan, mindful movements, and mindful eating.
• Beginning in FY2017, LIAs received a small but meaningful increase in funding to improve home visitor salaries where needed, and/or to provide more data entry staff to reduce this burden on home visitors.
• Also during FY2017, Florida MIECHV began providing small-group reflective supervision calls for supervisors with a nationally recognized expert in reflective supervision. The groups meet for an hour each month and can request one-on-one technical assistance, as needed.
• Florida MIECHV regularly offers a Compassion Fatigue Workshop that focuses on practical tools to assist staff in noticing how they react to secondary traumatic stress. A trend that leaders in Florida MIECHV have observed is that as programs become more experienced and comfortable implementing evidence-based home visiting programs, they improve on their ability to hire compatible and qualified staff.
Updated April 2020