What Is It?
Going out into the community to work with families on a weekly basis means home visitors have to be very organized. They need to know how many visits a week to schedule (keeping in mind the caseload and service duration requirements in the HSPPS 1302.22(b) and (c)), scheduled with sufficient time to serve all enrolled children in the home (HSPPS 1302.35(b)(3)), and how long it will take them to travel to each visit. They also have to leave time for phone calls, meetings, supervision, and record keeping.1 Time management is essential!
Documentation is also important! Home visitors need to keep up-to-date records of their work with families so that they can work with you, the supervisor, to track child and family progress, demonstrate how services meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards, align with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, and monitor the quality of program services. You help home visitors by providing adequate time and work space, forms for documenting home visits, and guidance to complete required documentation accurately and in a timely manner. With program support, you also provide technological aids such as laptops or tablets so that home visitors can complete their work. Home visitors should understand that if they do not provide accurate and timely documentation, the program will have no evidence of the important work they do or the gains children and families make. In addition to making sure home visitors keep up with documentation, you also make time to review home visitors’ files.
Parlakian and Seibel, Help Me Grow Home Visitor Curriculum ↩
For time keeping, 1 encourage home visitors to do the following:
- Make a list of all the families in their caseload.
- Plan to see each child and family at a regular time each week. If a family needs to change their visit time, home visitors should try to get back to their regular schedule as soon as they can.
- When possible, group the day’s visits so they are seeing families who live near each other.
- Leave enough time to travel from home to home when planning visits.
- Make reminder calls or send reminder emails or texts to families a day or two before their visits, to cut down on missed appointments. Ensure that any email or text communication follows the program’s protocol for using technology to communicate with families.
- Let families know when the home visit is close to ending so that families have time to mention every concern before the home visitor leaves. For example, the home visitor can say, “I will be leaving in about 10 or 15 minutes. Is there anything else we should talk about before we do our closing?”
- Confirm the next visit with the family before leaving their home.
For record-keeping,2 encourage home visitors to do the following:
- Allow 15–30 minutes each day to complete home visit documentation, preferably just after each home visit.
- Set aside one day or half-day per week for paperwork, calls, and other office work.
- Complete any needed report forms each week, so they do not have to go through a lot of records at the end of the month. This can include keeping up with child assessment documentation and entering information into an online assessment system.
- Ask for support if they are not sure how to complete records or forms.
- Compile packets of pamphlets and forms for new families in advance, so they are always prepared to meet with a new family, even on busy days.
Supporting home visitors in time and record keeping
As you review home visitors’ files, use these strategies to support them with time and record keeping.
- Look for documentation of weekly child development experiences and evidence of joint planning with families; timelines for sensory screenings, developmental screenings, and ongoing assessments; family engagement; significant family events and changes; changes in health status; and up-to-date health records.
- Address documentation issues during supervision and training.
- Use records to help home visitors make connections between child and family goals and program services, distinguish between objective behaviors and subjective perceptions, and work on continuous improvement.