Responsive Partnerships with Families: Results from Piloting a Home Visitor Communication Toolkit




Jon Korfmacher, Mariel Sparr, Mary Frese, and Allison West

Brief Type



  • Early Head Start Home-Based Option
  • Healthy Families America (HFA)
  • Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY)
  • Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP)
  • SafeCare/SafeCare Augmented


Recent evaluations, including the recent MIHOPE report, note the need to focus on home visitor training, specifically on the use of observation of practice as an important tool for skill improvement. This workshop presents a recently developed toolkit that focuses on one essential element of home visiting: communication strategies. The work of home visitors is conducted primarily through their interactions with families. Home visitors differ in the specific content they provide, usually informed by their program model and curricula, their own background knowledge, and the expressed needs of the parent. But how they present the information is as important as the content itself.

The toolkit presented in this workshop focuses on two broad communication tasks: partnership formation, and responsiveness to family needs and concerns. The specific strategies within these tasks initially emerged from an empirical examination of video-recorded home visiting practices. The final set and the specific coaching approaches were developed in collaboration with home visiting program staff who worked with researchers to ensure the toolkit was engaging, feasible and meaningful to their practice. We will share the toolkit elements, including a video glossary that contains examples of home visitor communication strategies (e.g., empathy statements, partnership statements), and role-play scenarios that allow practicing strategies in a safe and structured context. We will also present results and feedback from a learning community that piloted the toolkit. The workshop concludes by reflecting on how cultures of research and practice can inform each other to improve home visiting services.

Data Collection Methods

  • Focus groups
  • Home Visit Observations
  • Surveys or questionnaires



For More Information

Korfmacher, J., Sparr, M., Frese, M. & West, A. (2020, January 30). Responsive partnerships with families: Results from piloting a home visitor communication toolkit. National Home Visiting Summit. Presentation at the conference of The Ounce, Washington, DC.
Link to Presentation


  • Home Visiting Workforce Characteristics and Workforce Development