6.2 Joint Planning

What Is It?

One of the major purposes of the home-based option is to help the parents explore and experience where their child is developmentally, what interests the child, how the child learns in each domain, and how to support that learning through every day routines and experiences. You can help parents understand healthy development and what they can do to keep their child healthy and protect their child from injury. This affirms their role in promoting school readiness and positive health outcomes.

A second major purpose is to support the family in working toward their own goals.

Joint planning is one of the keys to successful home visiting with families. An important vehicle for making these things happen is by developing positive goal-oriented relationships between you and the family. Through the process of discussing what the child is doing currently and what he is about to do developmentally, you can address the child’s and family’s interests and future goals and plan the visits together. Using the Family Partnership Agreement Process, the home visitor can build on the family’s goals for themselves and their child by asking simple, probing questions that will help them think about what they want for their child week by week. When the parents are engaged in the planning process and gathering the materials, they are more likely to take a leadership role in interacting with their child.

How To

You can support joint planning by:

  • carefully explaining from the beginning (e.g., orally, in pamphlets, in a contract) that the main reason of the home visit is to work with the family to explore the many ways parents can support their child’s learning and development. Home visits are also an opportunity for families to work on goals jointly created within the Family Partnership Agreement;

  • reviewing together what happened during the last visit and learning what has happened since the last visit;

  • repeating experiences from the last visit, as appropriate;

  • reviewing the joint plan made for this visit, making sure parents have the opportunity to discuss how the experience might work and why you are offering it;

  • using materials from the home, supporting parents through experiences or interactions planned for this visit;

  • observing and reflecting with parents during the activity;

  • asking for input (“I wonder, does this seems like a good choice?” “Does this make sense to you? I feel like I’m not being clear.”);

  • reviewing and reflecting on the visit with the parents;

  • asking what parents hope to do before the next visit;

  • asking what parents might find useful for the next visit and offer ideas, especially if you need to bring in other aspects of comprehensive services;

  • exploring the family’s health beliefs, values, and needs as appropriate;

  • discussing ideas for the next visit and making a plan;

  • and leaving a copy of the home visit plan with the parents.

Experience It

Joint Planning Video Clip

This clip shows a home visitor and mother discussing her child’s developing skills and figuring out what they might do on the next home visit, using home materials to support these skills.


  1. What do you observe?


    Various answers, such as:

    • Home visitor briefly reviews what they did this week and asks the mother what she would like to do next week.

    • Home visitor picks up block and bangs on the block in baby’s hand, talking to mother through the baby. Mother watches and smiles and continues to say she would like to work on pulling up and lower body strength next week.

    • Home visitor talks about finding things around the house that her child, Mason, can pull up on, pointing to a piece of furniture in the room that would be safe.

    • Mother tells Mason to say bye-bye, and he waves his fingers. She smiles and says that is the first time he has done that.

  2. How can you apply what you observe from this brief interaction about joint planning to your home visits?


    Various answers, such as:

    • Joint planning doesn’t have to be a long, involved process but can simply be a few questions about what the child is doing or about to do that the parent would like to work on. Then the two of you can brainstorm what you might find in the home to support this development.

    • Parents should be involved in the planning of home visits so they will have an investment in carrying out the home visit.

    • If the parent is involved in gathering materials for the home visit, they will be more likely to take some leadership role in engaging the child with the materials. The home visitor should be prepared with some questions that might engage the parent in jointly planning the next home visit.