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Four Takeaways from the National Home Visiting Summit

Start Early Chief Policy & Research Officer, Kristin Bernhard, shares key takeaways from system leaders regarding progress toward equitable early childhood systems at the 2024 National Home Visiting Summit.

Kristin Bernhard February 12, 2024
  • Professional Development
  • Blog

The 2024 National Home Visiting Summit brought together advocates, home visitors, program leaders, funders, and researchers, alongside federal, state, and local level public sector system leaders for three days of learning, reflection, and action, both in person in Washington, D.C. and virtually with attendees joining from across the globe.

This year’s gathering spotlighted the tremendous progress public sector early childhood system leaders, particularly at the state level, have made to advance home visiting as part of an equitable, comprehensive early childhood system.

In breakout session presentations, small group discussions, and networking opportunities throughout the Summit, the four points below emerged as the key themes from system leaders regarding progress toward equitable early childhood systems:

  1. Consolidation is not enough. There was energy and excitement about the lessons states are learning as they move towards consolidation of early childhood programs and funding streams into single, state agencies focused solely on early childhood. For example, state home visiting leaders shared promising practices around single statewide referral lines, and increasingly integrated funding streams. As more states consider consolidation, system leaders at the Summit asked attendees to consider how consolidation and integration are actually experienced by families and providers when they interact with public systems, and challenged leaders not to stop with integration at the top.
  2. Look for “catalyst” funding opportunities. In a session about the Preschool Development Grants for Birth-Five (PDGB5) , state leaders reflected on approaching the funding opportunity with the question of “what can PDGB5 do for us, versus ‘how do we meet the requirements?” The Summit offered numerous examples of system leaders looking at federal, state, and increasingly philanthropic funding sources as catalysts – not carrying the full weight of system infrastructure but inspiring progress.
  3. Communities are key. State system leaders are increasingly operationalizing infrastructure at a state level with reverence, respect, and leadership from the unique needs of individual communities. Home visiting programs, with their connection to community infrastructure, offer a unique opportunity for child care, preschool, and other early childhood programs and funding streams to leverage the existing relationships and networks of home visitors.
  4. The Home Visiting Work Force is a part of the Early Childhood Education Workforce. Chronic staffing shortages, low wages, high turnover rates, and a feeling of lack of respect for the child care workforce have been well publicized in the media, but these issues are also being felt across the home visiting workforce. While it might sound obvious to those in the field, system leaders are increasingly implementing cross sector approaches to recruit, support, and retain the early childhood workforce, inclusive of those in the home visiting sector. These comprehensive strategies to lift all the professionals who support young children and their families send a message of value to all those in the field, while also attacking the structural impediments to an effective workforce.

How can you bring these takeaways into your state’s system? Mark your calendars for February 12-14, 2025, for the 2025 National Home Visiting Summit! We hope you will join us in person at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. for more peer learning on these topics.

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Start Early’s Consulting Practice also invites system leaders to leverage our consultants as strategic advisors to support more equitable early childhood systems. We expand the bench wherever support is needed, bringing seasoned, practical experience to leaders, advocates, and their teams.  Please reach out to us at to learn more.

About the Author

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Kristin Bernhard

Former Chief Policy & Research Officer

Kristin Bernhard, J.D., led the advocacy, policy and research strategy, driving the organization’s efforts to strengthen prenatal-to-age 5 systems at the federal, state, and community levels.

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