4 Staff Selection

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According to the Home Visitor’s Handbook (see Chapter 2, “Introduction”), the work of the “home visitor is complex, delicate, intense, challenging, and rewarding. [Home visitors] are working closely with families at a time when they are undergoing enormous changes and want to do what they can to support the well-being of their child…[The work of the home visitor] is so significant because of the profound importance of pregnancy, the newborn period, and the first five years of life for the child’s lifelong development, the growth of each family member’s skills and abilities to promote that development, and the quality of the parent–child relationship.” As a home-based supervisor, you want to hire the most capable, qualified, home visitors you can find to do this important work!

Both the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and the 2007 Head Start Act require home visitors to have certain knowledge, experience, and skills. 45 CFR 1304.52(e) requires home visitors to have “knowledge and experience in child development and early childhood education; the principles of child health, safety, and nutrition; adult learning principles; and family dynamics. They must be skilled in communicating with and motivating people. In addition, they must have knowledge of community resources and the skills to link families with appropriate agencies and services.” Head Start Act section 645A(i)(2)(A)-(G) states, “the standards for training, qualifications, and the conduct of home visits [in Early Head Start] shall include content related to

  • structured child-focused home visiting that promotes parents' ability to support the child's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development;
  • effective strengths-based parent education, including methods to encourage parents as their child's first teachers;
  • early childhood development with respect to children from birth through age 3;
  • methods to help parents promote emergent literacy in their children from birth through age 3, including use of research-based strategies to support the development of literacy and language skills for children who are limited English proficient;
  • ascertaining what health and developmental services the family receives and working with providers of these services to eliminate gaps in service by offering annual health, vision, hearing, and developmental screening for children from birth to entry into kindergarten, when needed;
  • strategies for helping families coping with crisis; and
  • the relationship of health and well-being of pregnant women to prenatal and early child development.”

These Head Start Act competencies are fully addressed in the Home Visitor’s Handbook; see Chapter 8, “Training and Education of Home Visitors.”

The work of home visitors occurs in the context of interpersonal relationships. Building these relationships with families takes time, effort, and commitment. So the home visitors you hire must be ready, willing, and able to engage in relationship-based work. They must be “relationship ready.”

As part of your administrative responsibilities, you may be involved in three important tasks related to hiring home visitors:

  • Developing a thorough and accurate job description
  • Identifying appropriate outlets for recruitment
  • Developing or implementing an interview process that provides information necessary for evaluating the candidate’s capacity to do the work