Policy Resource

Georgia's Central Intake System Connects Families to Home Visiting and Other Services

Sep 20, 2016

Learn how Georgia is using MIECHV funds to strengthen their early childhood systems.

Georgia is continuing its push for better ways to provide home visiting services to expectant mothers and families. With funding from a 2012 Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) development grant and leadership provided by the Governor’s Office, Georgia established a central intake system to reach every expectant woman and new family. The system, Great Start Georgia (GSG), aims to efficiently link families to targeted services in the community, including home visiting, mental health, substance abuse, child safety, school readiness and parent support.

There are multiple entry points to the central intake system: all electronic birth certificates are scanned to identify families who might be at risk; a statewide toll-free number and a portal on the GSG website enable families to directly inquire about services; and local providers can screen families and refer them to the GSG. Great Start Georgia has a data system for screening and referral information which is supported at the local level. An evaluation, using a matched county comparison design, found that the information and referral center enhanced enrollment and retention in home visiting services. Families were more likely to be linked to services in the MIECHV counties. Counties with central intake generated more referrals, had more complete screenings, and conducted more comprehensive screenings.

Georgia also piloted a program designed to strengthen enrollment and engagement in home visiting services. This included two components. The first was to show an informational video to families at the enrollment visit. Second, home visiting graduates served as community peer liaisons to support enrollment and retention. A randomized control study found that families who received the enhanced engagement protocol stayed in services 54 days longer than those who did not. Most of this difference was attributed to longer retention of families identifying as Hispanic/Latino. The evaluators suggest that the enhanced engagement protocol could be recommended as part of a change package for improving engagement and retention, but not endorsed as a one size fits all remedy.

Learn more about Georgia and how other states are using MIECHV funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREEs paper, The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program: Smart Investments Build Strong Systems for Young Children.

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