4.1 The Job Description


What Is It?

What should the home visitor job description include? The HSPPS and Head Start Act provide a good base for the kinds of knowledge, experiences, and skills that home visitors should have. The job description should also include responsibilities related to the home-based program option elements, such as conducting weekly 90-minute home visits with each child/family; conducting two socializations each month; covering all elements of comprehensive services over the course of a month; introducing, arranging, and/or providing Head Start (HS) services; conducting screening and ongoing assessment; and maintaining records. (See the Home Visitor’s Handbook, Chapter 5, “Elements of the Home-Based Option,” for a complete list.)

You may want to identify dispositions and skills that enable home visitors to form authentic relationships with parents/families, such as the ability to demonstrate empathic, respectful, nonjudgmental relationships and to problem solve challenging situations. Home visitors should also be familiar with the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of children and families enrolled in the program. This allows home visitors to more effectively address the strengths and needs of families and to provide more meaningful support and guidance. Whenever possible, home visitors should speak the language(s) of children and families with whom they will be working [45 CFR 1304.52(g)(2)].

In addition to the home visitor qualifications required by the HSPPS and Head Start Act, the job description should identify the specific educational, professional, and personal experiences necessary to achieve your program’s particular goals; for example, some programs require the Child Development Associate (CDA)1 credential for home visitors. Also consider identifying the knowledge and work experiences that meet the needs of the families in your program; for example, if your program works with teenage parents, home visitors should be knowledgeable about teen development and the dynamics operating in multigenerational families. If one of your program goals is to increase the rate of healthy, full-term births in the community, you might specify prenatal health knowledge and experience working with pregnant women/expectant families.


  1. The CDA is a national credential for early care and education professionals administered by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition. See http://www.cdacouncil.org/

Experience It

Staff Selection (Hiring Home Visitors) Overview

Redmond Reams, PhD, licensed psychologist, Oregon Health and Science University Division of Child Psychiatry and Portland State University Graduate Certificate Program in Infant/Toddler Mental Health, and Jennifer Boss, director, Early Head Start National Resource Center, talk about hiring relationship-ready staff.

The following handout is referred to as Handout 2 in the video clip on relationship-ready staff.

Handout 2 - Relationship-ready staff characteristics [by Redmond Reams]

  1. Have a balanced and realistic view of relationships including both positive & negative aspects
  2. Consistently think about other person’s feelings, wants, state of mind, etc. and take that into account in their actions without neglecting own interests
  3. Have a generally (but not rigid) positive approach to other people, to themselves, and to the world
  4. Value relationships and get rewards from how well relationships are going
  5. Assume relationships can survive negative feelings and tend to communicate about them rather than withdrawing
  6. See other people as a resource who can help them rather than as competitors, critics, or unavailable people
  7. Put effort into helping relationships work
  8. Thinking and talking about relationships is comfortable for them
  9. Reflect on and take responsibility for their own contributions to difficult situations

To watch the whole webinar, go to: Interviewing Strategies to Hire Relationship-Ready Staff Webinar D8: Management and Professional Development 17<sup>th</sup> Annual Virtual Birth to Three Institute



Learn More

Deepen your program's relationships with families using the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework and the requirements in the Head Start Program Performance Standards. This resource outlines skills and strategies for staff and supervisors working with families.


This skill profile supports the development of an individual staff development plan for a home visitor. It includes a list of skill indicators with a brief description of each skill needed to carry out job responsibilities.