Assessment and Mapping of Community Connections in Home Visiting

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodJul 10 2019

Home visiting programs provide information and support to parents of young children to address their individual needs. The families served by home visiting programs often have many needs, and home visitors cannot address all of them. Therefore, referrals to outside community services are vital for the success of the families that home visiting programs serve.

Recognizing the importance of these referrals, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), both of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), contracted with Child Trends and Trilogy Interactive to design a prototype for a tool to enhance home visiting stakeholders’ understanding of community connections in the home visiting context. Stakeholders of interest included federal staff, state administrators, tribal and non-tribal local implementing agencies, state-level early childhood coordinators, technical assistance providers, home visiting model and tool developers, and researchers. Community connections refers to relationships between home visiting programs and other community services providers, such as those offering mental health services, child care, and more. This report provides a summary of the work the project team completed to understand the needs of relevant stakeholders and to propose a tool that would meet their needs.


To create a prototype of the tool, the project used a human-centered design approach. The project team relied heavily on input from stakeholders to deeply understand their needs. By engaging a stakeholder group that included potential end users of the tool (i.e., federal staff, state administrators, and local implementing agencies) throughout the project, the team learned that stakeholders were interested in the availability of community service providers, gaps between family needs and availability of services, the accessibility of providers (in terms of location, language, and more), quality of services, and much more. Based on this information from stakeholders, as well as findings from other project activities, the team developed several iterations of the prototype. The result was a final prototype of a tool that would help stakeholders better understand community connections between home visiting programs and other community service providers.

Key findings and highlights

This report shares several reflections on what the team learned through the project activities. The key reflections are:

  • Making referrals from home visiting to other community services is a complex process. Home visitors must understand (1) the availability, accessibility, and relationships between home visiting programs and community resources, (2) the families’ needs, and (3) appropriate ways to connect families to resources that align with their needs within the unique local context. This information informed the development of the prototype by highlighting the key information programs need that a tool could provide.
  • Stakeholders want a great deal of information about community connections in the home visiting context, including the supply of and demand for community services and the accessibility of these services at the LIA, state, and national levels. However, due to data limitations, the prototype of the tool does not address several identified needs.
  • Basic analyses, as opposed to complex analyses, were more appropriate for this project. One of HHS’s original goals for the project was to better understand the strength of connections between home visiting programs and various community resources. The project team considered addressing this goal through complex analytic techniques such as social network analysis. However, stakeholders showed a preference for information that could be derived from basic descriptive analyses.

Suggested citation: Rosinsky, K., Madill, R., Bashara, S., Supplee, L., Shaw, S., Stearns, R., Li, W., Gutowski, T., Cantrell, E.  (2019). Assessment and Mapping of Community Connections in Home Visiting: Final Report. OPRE Report Number 2019-68. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Other Authors: Randy Stearns, Stacey Bashara, Tim Gutowski

An accompanying brief, titled “Promoting Understanding of Community Connections in Home Visiting: State of Available Data and Future Opportunities” was published in August 2019.