Findings from the First 5 California Home Visiting Workforce Study

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodFeb 25 2021

The First 5 California (F5CA) Home Visiting Workforce Study collected data to help the state understand the landscape of California’s home visiting workforce, including characteristics of home visitors and supervisors, implementation supports for staff, and program needs for workforce recruitment, development, and retention. The following summary presents key findings from a survey of more than 900 home visiting staff representing 171 home visiting programs across the state.

Key findings about California’s home visiting workforce

Key findings from this workforce survey include a description of the California home visiting workforce, the ways they are meeting the needs of families, changes in their work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how home visitor well-being and program supports affect workforce retention.

  • The majority of California’s home visiting workforce identifies as Hispanic or Latinx and can speak Spanish fluently. These demographics mirror the families comprising home visitor caseloads, with the majority of families also being Hispanic or Latinx, and Spanish being their second most commonly spoken language after English.
  • Although the workforce is experienced working with parents and families, they are new to the field of home visiting. More than 40 percent of home visitors have worked in the field for less than three years and the majority have been in their current position for less than three years.
  • While almost three-quarters of California’s home visiting workforce hold at least a bachelor’s degree, staff come from a diverse range of disciplines, representing degrees in child development, early childhood education, psychology, social work, nursing, and education.
  • The well-being of the home visiting workforce is a concern. One quarter of the workforce is experiencing depressive symptoms, which is a higher rate of depressive symptoms than those found in recent national studies of home visiting staff.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect families and home visitors. Almost all home visitors are conducting virtual home visits during the pandemic, and almost all reported that their work is more challenging now compared to before COVID-19. In addition, both home visitors and supervisors are now working almost twice as much during the evenings and weekends compared to before the pandemic.
  • While high levels of stress and depressive symptoms are being reported during the pandemic, most home visitors have not experienced a change in their level of satisfaction with work now compared to before COVID-19, and plan to stay in their current position for at least the next year. Home visitors also reported that they appreciate support from their supervisors as well as employment benefits such as paid vacation or sick leave and health insurance. At the same time, about half of home visitors would like additional mental health supports.
  • Predictors of whether home visitors in California intended to remain in their current position include having a say in decisions that affect them, receiving training on implementing virtual home visiting, having three or more years of home visiting experience, being satisfied with the amount of on-the-job stress they experienced, and having higher salaries. However, reporting more depressive symptoms and experiencing discrimination in the workplace decreased the likelihood of expecting to remain in their current position.