In 2010, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), provided states with the opportunity to apply for funding to build and expand evidence-based home visiting programs in their states and to incorporate community collaboration components, referred to as early childhood comprehensive systems (ECCS). For Texas, this was the first opportunity to build a statewide program of home visiting services that would be incorporated within local comprehensive early childhood systems to support the early development of Texas children and their families. This paper highlights the lessons learned from the first year of implementing a comprehensive system of early childhood services in the Texas Home Visiting Program (THVP). Findings from this first year can inform any effort to build comprehensive and accountable communities for children. By the end of the first year, each of the seven Texas communities taking part in THVP had made significant progress building their ECCS. Prior experience building coalitions in the community facilitated early, but not necessarily long-term, success. Communities required flexibility to build an ECCS that fit their unique contexts, but they also required strong support and technical assistance to sustain their coalitions. Additionally, the availability of local-level data to inform the development of coalition goals and action plans was critical to recruiting and sustaining membership. Moving forward, communities will begin to assess and promote the sustainability of their ECCS. Sustainability will be critical to reaching the ultimate goal of providing a seamless delivery of health and human services to ensure that all children are ready for school.
Key Take Away Points
- Successful early childhood comprehensive systems promote maternal, infant, and early childhood health, safety, and development, and strong parent-child relationships by providing a seamless delivery of health and human services.
- Each of the seven communities taking part in the Texas Home Visiting Program made significant progress toward building a local ECCS during the first year of implementation despite facing a variety of challenges.
- Prior experience building coalitions in the community facilitated early, but not necessarily long-term, success.
- Communities required flexibility to build an ECCS that fit their unique contexts, but also required strong support and technical assistance to sustain their coalitions.
- The availability of local-level data to inform the development of coalition goals and action plans was critical to recruiting and sustaining membership.
Cynthia Osborne, PhD is an Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. She is the director of the Texas Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) and the Primary Investigator on the evaluation project on Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Home Visiting Program. Her teaching and research interests are in the areas of social policy, poverty and inequality, family and child well-being, family demography, teacher quality, and school entry among disadvantaged children.
Kaeley C. Bobbitt, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow at CFRP and serves on the Texas Home Visiting Program evaluation team. Her research interests center around the development and well-being of children from low-income families.
Jill M. Boelter, PhD was a Postdoctoral Fellow at CFRP and served on the Texas Home Visiting Program evaluation team.
Tracy K. Ayrhart was a former Postdoctoral Fellow at CFRP and served on the Texas Home Visiting Program evaluation team and is currently a program manager at the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas.
Osborne, Cynthia; Bobbitt, Kaeley C.; Boelter, Jill M.; and Ayrhart, Tracy K.
"Early Lessons Learned from Building Local Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems in Texas,"
Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 5
, Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol5/iss1/7
Responses to this Article:
LaShonda Brown, Commentary on "Early Lessons Learned from Building Local Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems in Texas" (May 2014)