To improve the quality of home visits for families in Wyoming, the state has begun hosting a Community of Practice (COP) for all MIECHV staff in five counties.
To improve the quality of home visits for families in Wyoming, the state has begun hosting a Community of Practice (COP) for all MIECHV staff in five counties. Using the HOVRS (Home Visiting Observation Rating Scales) and PICCOLO (Parenting Interactions with Children: Checklist of Observations Linked to Outcomes) tools, home visitors engage in self-reflective, strengths-based practices of rating the quality of home visits.
Over the past three years since beginning the COP, the state has observed considerable increases in scores on the HOVRS, creating a culture of high-quality interactions within the state’s home visiting program. Conducting strengths-based sessions has allowed the members of the COP to rely on a culture of trust and openness. One exercise of the COP involves a staff member providing a video recording of an interaction had during a home visit and sharing it with the larger group. The other staff then comment on the home visitor’s strengths in the interaction, providing specific feedback for the staff member, as it relates to the HOVRS and PICCOLO. This exercise is meant to serve as an opportunity for growth for the home visitor, while also lifting up their work, improving their confidence and future interactions during home visits. By video taping interactions with families during home visits, the state’s program is working to better ensure that home visiting interactions are of the highest quality, and caregivers are getting the most out of the program as possible. With the incorporation of video recordings in the COP, it is now plain to see how staff members have grown and developed – making opportunities for professional development and growth clear for supervisors as well.
An important piece of the home visiting COP in Wyoming has been ensuring open communication and collaboration between the staff members and supervisors. One innovative way in which Wyoming has been successful at this is through the incorporation of technology into their COP. Due to the rural nature, and sheer size of the state, it is difficult for the entire staff to convene on a regular basis. This led leaders to think creatively and include technology into the COP. By utilizing online meeting services to conduct three out of the four meetings annually, the leaders of the COP can ensure high attendance as well as convenience for the staff. Adjusting to the virtual meetings took time; however, the state has had great success in embedding the use of technology into the culture of the home visiting COP. The state has had success in providing a collaborative and interactive online platform for the staff members by encouraging participation throughout the online presentation.
The COP will continue to meet quarterly, under the format of three virtual meetings and one face-to-face meeting annually. The state has observed a tremendous shift in the culture of the home visiting program – the staff are more eager to understand how they are doing in their visits and have shown interest in improving their interactions while growing professionally in the field. The state has also seen a shift in families’ willingness to be recorded in their home visits. By recording the family during an interaction and providing the caregiver with thoughtful, individualized feedback based on the observed interaction with a child, the caregiver is better able to internalize feelings of pride over an interaction.