Family with home visitor

The Importance of Practitioner Voice in Home Visiting Systems

Home visiting expert and former Start Early vice president for training, Janelle Weldin-Frisch, shares insights and opportunities for centering practitioner voice and enhancing DEIB in home visiting.

Janelle Weldin-Frisch February 23, 2022
  • Family Engagement
  • Professional Development
  • Blog

Today’s early childhood organizations are vocal about their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). As leaders, we vary in the degree to which we responsively identify and change processes that make those commitments visible. Regardless of how long we have been or where we stand in the field of home visiting, we need not look far to find ways to move from intention to impact.

Consider this quick questionnaire:

  • Think about the values and cultural backgrounds of families in your program. Is there cultural alignment between the practitioners and the enrolled families?
  • Who is responsible for decisions of policy, job qualifications, and practice protocols for home visitors and supervisors in your program? How many of those who are making system and protocol decisions are actively engaged with families on a day-to-day basis?

COVID has prolonged widespread staff vacancies in early childhood settings. Today’s leaders are faced with the simultaneous challenges of hiring new staff and retaining their current workforce. During this season of workforce upheaval, we need to look for ways to cultivate and elevate the voice, experience, and expertise of those currently engaged in direct work with families to increase DEIB in our programs.

Home visitors, by the very nature of their jobs, are uniquely positioned to support caregivers’ goals for themselves and their child. Parents and home visitors co-develop action plans in the context of the family’s composition of members, culture, community, and economic resources. Home visitors partner with parents and caregivers directly to navigate culturally dismissive, disconnected community systems that are not responsive to the family’s identified needs. Practitioners hold expertise in their local resources, provide in-person and virtual support, are on top of trends and interests of families, and have the experience and perspectives of cultural brokers in the community. They honor a caregiver’s unspoken words, “…nothing about me without me…”.

As we prepare for the upcoming virtual National Home Visiting Summit in late March, let’s keep talking with each other and listening to the perspectives and expertise of home visitors. Let’s challenge ourselves to identify strategies that seek to invite, reach, engage, and cultivate the invaluable input of practitioners. When we return to the routines of our work, let’s commit to create and improve platforms for home visitors’ involvement in decisions related to policy, research and practice that directly impact them.

Interested in learning more about Start Early’s resources and learning opportunities for home visitors and supervisors? Check out our Essentials of Home Visiting online professional development experiences or reach out to us directly at [email protected].

About the Author

Janelle Weldin-Frisch headshot

Janelle Weldin-Frisch

Home Visiting Expert

Janelle cultivates strategic partnerships and provides state and regional leaders with technical assistance in the use of The Essentials of Home Visiting.

More About Janelle