Early Childhood & Family Support Evaluation

Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family Foundation and Support
Healthy Homes Mississippi Fatherhood Evaluation

More than half of the families served by the Healthy Homes Mississippi (HHM) program do not have a father in the home. In Mississippi, the proportion of children living in single-parent households is high, about 42 percent, compared to the national average of 32 percent. Many of these fathers have little or no contact with their children. However, a growing body of research shows that children do better when a male caregiver is present. The Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family Foundation and Support, was awarded a federal grant to enhance the HHM program by adding a fatherhood component. HHM provides comprehensive home visiting services to families in at-risk communities to improve maternal and child health; improve family protective factors; improve children’s cognitive, social, and emotional growth; and support healthy parent-child relationships. The evaluation, which began in 2015 and ended in 2017 was conducted by HZA and Mississippi State. It focused on strategies that emphasized the use of research to help guide program planning and implementation. Using a mixed-methods approach, the evaluation involved a comparison of results for programs that have started to use the new fatherhood curriculum to those that have not been trained. A document review, analysis of program participation data, staff survey, and interviews are methods used for the first two years of the project. The HHM evaluation provides outcomes related to the techniques that are effective in engaging fathers; the effectiveness of inclusion of a Fatherhood Coach as part of the program’s support staff; and the structural issues in home visiting that promote or hinder the inclusion of male caregivers. The team will also examine the efficacy in achieving improvement in school readiness of participating families, which is an overarching goal of the program.

 

University of Southern Maine
Maine Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Evaluation (MIECHV)

Under the Affordable Care Act states have been expanding and enhancing their data capacities. Hired as a subcontractor by the University of Southern Maine from 2013 – 2016, HZA was responsible for multiple qualitative evaluation components. To this end, HZA has developed program manager interviews and staff focus group questions which were then implemented through a series of site visits with all home visiting providers across the state. HZA also served as the lead on analyzing the qualitative results, using NVivo software, and producing a report of the findings. Child development, home safety, nutrition and calming a crying baby were the skills most frequently applied by families receiving home visiting services. Families enrolled prenatally were less likely to have babies pre-term and less likely to have low birth weight babies and more likely to breastfeed at the time of hospital discharge.

 

Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Healthy Families Program Evaluation

HZA has evaluated the Home Visiting Program for first time parents in Maine from 2002 to 2015. Maine’s Home Visiting Program provides home-based education and support services to first time families and pregnant and parenting adolescents throughout the State of Maine with the goal of increasing the health status and self-sufficiency of Maine’s families. The particular focus is on new, first-time parents and their infants and young children and in more recent years in high risk, high need communities. The program is intended to have a positive impact on child health, parent-child attachment, parent knowledge and skill in supporting childhood growth and development. HZA’s evaluation has included a multi-site (13 agency) comparative analysis of process and outcome measures; development and implementation of an integrated database at each program site to standardize data collection and universalize program evaluation; training and technical assistance for providers in the use of evaluation methods; annual surveys of both families and community organizations that collaborate with the agencies; and completion of reports for public dissemination.

 

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
Home Visitation System Evaluation

West Virginia received a federal grant with funds authorized by the Affordable Care Act to expand and enhance the infrastructure of its statewide home visitation program beginning in 2012 and ending in 2015. The State’s strategy is to improve the quality of home visiting services and the outcomes achieved for families by building key components of the state infrastructure, including developing program standards based on national models, incorporating validated measurement tools into practice and expanding the home visitation infrastructure and training capacity. HZA performed both a process and an impact evaluation of these efforts. The process evaluation focused on: 1) the extent to which the objectives listed above are achievable and are actually achieved; 2) the effects of achieving the outcomes on program management and program effectiveness; 3) barriers that are encountered in implementing objectives; and 4) how difficulties are overcome. The impact component examined important changes in families such as improved prenatal, maternal, and newborn health; improved economic self-sufficiency; decreased childhood injuries, abuse and neglect, and emergency department visits; reduced crime and domestic violence; and improved school readiness.

 

Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services
Child Care Administration

HZA was contracted to evaluate the needs of children and families receiving subsidized child care. A review was conducted of the structure for administering child care subsidies. HZA identified potential expansions in the use of technology for the administration and delivery of child care services and mechanisms for the reduction of waiting lists through the expansion of funding resources.