Home visitors are frontline staff from local agencies who work with families in their homes. They are nurses, social workers, early childhood specialists, or paraprofessionals trained to conduct home visits with pregnant caregivers and families with young children.
Local agencies(Source: Local agencies are usually housed in a central location and serve families in nearby communities. They may also employ staff who provide administrative, data entry, or data management support. Local agencies are operated by state and local government offices, such as departments of health, human services, or education, as well as schools and school districts, hospitals and health clinics, tribal organizations, nonprofit organizations, and faith-based organizations.)Go to footnote #>1 strive to employ home visitors who can foster connections with families and develop trusting relationships. Educational requirements vary across local agencies and models. The Model Profiles provide more detail about educational requirements at the home visitor and supervisor levels.
What Do Home Visitors Do?
Among their many responsibilities, home visitors—
- Gather information to tailor services, such as screening caregivers for postpartum depression, substance use, and domestic violence or screening children for developmental delays
- Provide direct education and support to make homes safer, encourage positive parenting practices, promote safe sleep practices, and inform participants about child development
- Make referrals and coordinate services such as prenatal care, well-child visits, job training and education programs, early care and education, and if needed, mental health or domestic violence resources
What Do Supervisors Do?
Supervisors work with home visitors to promote their professional and personal growth. For example, they help home visitors reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and challenges to improve their practices with families. They help manage caseloads, ensure staff responsibilities are completed, and sometimes provide services to families directly.
Sharing the Home Visitor Viewpoint
As a home visitor for Nevada Families First, Heather Smith wanted to broaden her understanding of the field. She began diving into program data and joined a workgroup helping inform a conceptual model of home visitor professional well-being for the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. The experience, she says, helped her connect the dots between what home visitors are doing to take care of themselves and better outcomes for families and communities. It also empowered her to speak up during her program’s Continuous Quality Improvement meetings. “Being able to say, ‘Hey, this data that I’m pulling isn’t reflecting the hard work I’m doing in my home visits,’ has been really empowering and has validated the hard work that I’m doing through the numbers getting sent to our funder.”