Home Visitor's Online Handbook

Collecting Data

Home visitors sorting through papersAll Head Start and Early Head Start agencies collect data and information on a variety of topics as a way of tracking quality and efficacy. The Head Start Program Performance Standards require that each agency establish program goals for improving the school readiness of participating children from birth to 5 and follow steps to achieve these goals. The program goals will determine what tools you use in tracking child development and parent-child interaction, for example.

You are constantly collecting data using these assessment tools and your own observations. Data help you understand the progress of each child and family and the effectiveness of your work. You collect data on aspects of the home-based model as they are implemented with each family, such as attendance, the content of the visits and socializations, and the demographic and personal characteristics of the families served. You also collect data on the child's growth and development.

The data you collect should be useful. Therefore, you must begin by determining what questions you want answered. You certainly want to know how the child is doing developmentally and in health and growth. Do you want to know how the family is doing on their goals? What is the quality of the parent-child interaction? What about the quality of your own planning and interaction during a home visit? Are families following through on referrals?

The data you collect must be:

  • Relevant – Does the information you collect answer the question you are asking?
  • Timely – Is the information collected continuously and kept up to date?
  • Accurate – Is the information correct for the desired purpose, clear, and in adequate detail?
  • Complete – Do you monitor to assure all the information is there?

Assessment tools must be:

  • Valid – Does the tool really measure what it is supposed to measure?
  • Reliable – Does it provide dependable and consistent information?

Adapted from What Is Quality Data for Programs Serving Infants and Toddlers?

You might look at data in the following topics.


  • How many visits were there?
    • Regularly attended?
    • Cancelled?
    • No-showed?
  • How long was each visit?

Family Engagement

  • Were the visits focused and constructive?
  • Were the parents engaged?
  • Did parents have questions about topics you have discussed? 
  • What information and concerns were covered?
    • Were they drawn from joint planning?
  • How did conversations address parenting strategies and concerns?
  • Family service agreement outcomes?
  • Home safety outcomes and environmental modifications?
  • Issues raised because of situations such as family disruption, violence, mental health, food or housing instability, financial stress, teen or single parenting, etc.?
    • Did these issues interfere with spending time on child development experiences?

School Readiness

  • How did experiences address the child's school readiness goals related to the ELOF?
  • How did learning experiences incorporate materials in the home? 
  • What assessment methods were used and what was recorded?
  • What plan was created for the next home visit or socialization?
  • What observations did parents make about learning?

Comprehensive Services

  • What is the child's health status?
  • How many well-child visits were kept?
  • Unique family concerns?
  • Referrals made?
  • Community resources?
  • Nutrition? 
  • Oral health?