Promoting Understanding of Community Connections in Home Visiting: State of Available Data and Future Opportunities

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodAug 27 2019

Home visiting programs send trained staff to the homes of expectant parents or parents of young children to provide individualized information and supports to address families’ needs. The families served by these programs often have many needs, and home visitors cannot address all of them. Therefore, referrals to outside community services (such as mental health services, child care, job training, and more) are vital for the success of the families served. At the same time, home visiting programs and funders may only have fragmented information to help them understand their community-level networks and systems.


The Assessment and Mapping of Community Connections in Home Visiting (AMC-HV) project sought to address these challenges. For the AMC-HV project, ACF, in partnership with HRSA, contracted with Child Trends and Trilogy Interactive to design a prototype for a tool to enhance understanding of community connections in the MIECHV context. This potential tool is intended to support home visiting stakeholders (including state administrators, local implementing agencies [LIAs], federal staff, and others) in understanding community resources and facilitating referrals to these services. The project goals were to understand the diverse stakeholders’ interests related to community resources and referrals and to consider how a potential tool could be designed to answer stakeholders’ questions of interest.

To develop the prototype, the project team first collected information via interviews and focus groups to determine what stakeholders—for example, federal staff, state administrators, and LIAs (including tribes)—want to know about community connections. Findings from these activities revealed that stakeholders want to know more about the supply of and demand for community services, as well as their accessibility, and were interested in accessing these indicators at the LIA, state, and national levels. Furthermore, stakeholders would like to learn about how these metrics change over time, so they can more effectively target services and track their progress toward their goals. Next, the project team explored currently available data sources that could be used. The project team was able to identify many data sources but also encountered many challenges in trying to leverage data to populate the tool.


Key findings and highlights

This brief focuses on the state of data availability and data quality as it relates to community connections in home visiting, and presents potential opportunities to strengthen data related to community resources and referrals in the future. The brief describes:

  • The data sources the team identified that could provide necessary information to address several of the stakeholders’ interests, such as 2-1-1 websites, Google Maps, and LIA-level data collected by MIECHV state awardees.
  • How some existing data are not readily accessible to meet stakeholders’ interests, such as the number of referrals to each community service provider; results from client screeners and the number of clients referred for services, by each service type (e.g., mental health); and clients’ follow-through on referrals.
  • Data that were desired but were not possible to include because, to the project team’s knowledge, they do not exist, such as community service provider capacity and quality of community service providers.
  • Future opportunities for improving data availability, accessibility, and quality to understand community connections in home visiting such as enhancing data about community service providers and supporting systematic data collection strategies across LIAs.

Suggested citation: Madill, R., Rosinsky, K., Supplee, L., Shaw, S. (2019). Promoting Understanding of Community Connections in Home Visiting: State of Available Data and Future Opportunities. OPRE Report Number 2019-78. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.