A variety of fields use core competencies to define the knowledge, skills, and attitudes or attributes staff need to succeed in particular jobs. In the home visiting field—where staff encompass a range of disciplines and experiences—core competencies can help promote consistency across the workforce. Some states already use home visitor core competencies to ensure service quality across local agencies and models. Our recent Innovation Roundup Brief describes several efforts to develop core competency frameworks and compares and contrasts the competencies included in each.
Here are five ways diverse stakeholders can use core competencies to strengthen the home visiting workforce:
1. Home visitors can use core competencies for self-assessment.
Home visitors can use core competency sets as checklists to assess their own knowledge and skills and to set performance goals. New staff can complete a self-assessment upon hire and identify areas that might need to be developed. Home visitors can work with their supervisors or program managers to identify training opportunities that correspond with needed growth. After a period of time (e.g., annually), home visitors can revisit the core competencies to assess their own progress.
2. Program managers can use core competencies to develop job descriptions, trainings, and career ladders.
Home visiting program managers can use core competency topical areas to help structure job descriptions. This can help potential applicants ensure that they are a good match for the job and help local agencies fairly evaluate candidates. Program managers can also use core competencies to identify staff training needs and prioritize professional development opportunities.
Core competencies can also inform career ladders, with each rung recognizing the achievement of specific competencies. Tying metrics to promotion opportunities can create transparency around skill/knowledge development and pay for home visitors and program managers alike. According to one state official looking to build consistency in salary among home visitors, “[Using a set of core competencies] give us justification for increasing salaries. It illustrates that home visitors have consistency around training and skills, and that this is a profession. I hope it will entice more folks to come into the home visiting field.”
3. Training organizations can use core competencies to design educational opportunities.
Training and technical assistance providers benefit from having a clear, agreed-upon framework for what home visitors and supervisors should know and be able to do. Materials developed using this information can better meet the needs of the field. For example, the Institute for the Advancement of Family Support Professionals developed training modules based on its National Family Support Core Competency Framework.
4. Institutes of higher education can use core competencies to design program curricula and related courses.
Home visitors come to the field with a range of academic backgrounds, most frequently with training in nursing, social work, education, or social sciences. Few universities currently offer college courses with content specific to home visiting, but there are some exceptions. Academic researchers and university faculty could use core competency frameworks to help create program curricula and course syllabi. Within academic programs preparing future home visitors, core competencies could also serve as a foundation for student assessments.
5. States can use core competencies to encourage the delivery of high-quality home visiting services across local agencies.
Home visiting models vary in their approaches, staff requirements, and other factors. State agencies can use core competencies to create a set of standards across programs receiving state funding. Data gathered through staff performance assessments could feed into state planning and continuous quality improvement efforts.
These five examples illustrate the wide range of core competencies’ potential impacts. For more information about how states are developing their own or adopting existing core competency frameworks, read “Creating Core Competency Frameworks for Successful Home Visitors.”