Ohio’s Help Me Grow Home Visiting program is a statewide effort to provide expectant or new parents with health and child development information.
The Help Me Grow Home Visiting program has been in existence for several years. Following an increase in state general revenue funding for this program, a team of stakeholders undertook a revision of key aspects of the program.
Help Me Grow Home Visiting Program
The goals of the program, drawn from home visiting research and evaluation studies, are to: 1) increase healthy pregnancies; 2) improve parenting confidence and competence; 3) improve child health, development and readiness; and 4) increase family connectedness to community and social support. Eligibility has been defined to focus on the most vulnerable families: first-time pregnant women, and first-time parents with a child less than 6 month of age. These families must meet income guidelines of 200% of the federal poverty level. In addition, eligibility also includes children under the age of three who are referred from child protective services or with at least one parent in active military duty.
There are four key components to the Home Visiting program: Evidence-based parenting education curriculum, ongoing screenings and assessments, family need-based referral/resource linkage, and transition to a development-enhancing program/early care and education center. These key components are linked to outcome measures through program goals and outcomes.
Key outcomes for the Help Me Grow Home Visiting program are measured through an evaluation strategy. These outcomes are to: increase access to prenatal care, reduce smoking during pregnancy and afterward; prevent child abuse and neglect, increase parent knowledge of early childhood development, strengthen the home environment; increase access to medical home; increase family support; and increase community connectedness.
A Stronger Model, Policies and Training
Revisiting the Help Me Grow Home Visiting program was driven by a desire to incorporate best practices in home visiting, and reflect research findings from studies of home visiting initiatives. Ohio also wanted to improve the consistency of how the program was implemented in each of the 88 counties, and strengthen evaluation efforts.
In an effort to improve both the standardization and the quality of implementation, Ohio is focusing on three areas: strengthening the program model (goals, outcomes, and measures), revising the program policies, and aligning training for all home visitors.
The review and revision of the Home Visiting program involved the Ohio Department of Health (lead agency for Help Me Grow and the Part C early intervention program), the Office of Governor Ted Strickland, local Help Me Grow project directors, home visitors, existing providers of home visiting services in the state, and early childhood advocates. Through a public comment process, it became clear that there was confusion in the field related to Ohio Part C early intervention policies, and policies related to home visiting for vulnerable families. The revised policies are in three distinct categories: those for Home Visitation only, Part C early intervention policies only, and Help Me Grow policies which cover both home visitation and Part C early intervention programs (i.e., Exit, Transferring Records, Personnel Standards, and Clinical Supervision).
To align and consolidate training for home visitors, Ohio began by pulling the home visiting content from existing trainings and creating new training to address forms, screenings, and program evaluation tools. They are also creating or purchasing training focused solely on cultural competence with families of young children, relationship-building, and family engagement. Ohio finalized program policies and rule, training, and guidance for program implementation and launched the new program July 1, 2010.
Reviewed May 2018.