What Is It?
How you bring new home visitors into your program sets the stage for how they work and grow within the organization. Head Start Program Performance Standard 1304.52(k)(1) requires programs to “provide an orientation to all new staff, consultants, and volunteers that includes at a minimum, the goals and underlying philosophy of Early Head Start (EHS) and/or Head Start (HS) and the ways in which they are implemented in the program.
Starting a new job is like being suddenly immersed in a different culture! Even for a home visitor with a wealth of experience, new settings often come with new ways of doing the work. Each program has its own unique way of operating, from what is acceptable to wear to how, what, when, and with whom staff can communicate. Providing orientation activities and the necessary physical, psychological, and informational supports during this important period is essential to successful home visitor recruitment and retention.
As part of your orientation and preservice training, consider the variety of learning experiences that might benefit a new home visitor:
- Provide and review written materials about your program and its mission, as well as written policies, procedures, and protocols that are applicable to your overall program and the specific work of the home visitor. Use a checklist to ensure that each home visitor has received information on key topics.
- Provide opportunities for new home visitors to shadow experienced home visitors.
- Set up mentorship or “buddy systems.”
- Provide opportunities for new home visitors to role-play challenging situations.
- Provide opportunities for new home visitors to observe video of actual home visits or group socialization experiences. Make sure to get written permission from families to share videos of them with staff other than their assigned home visitors.
- Review case studies of particular families with new home visitors.
- Begin the process of establishing a collaborative relationship with the home visitor through individual and/or group reflective supervision.
- Stagger your orientation activities over time to support home visitors in learning and implementing new policies, practices, and products (e.g., home-based curriculum, child assessment tool).