Over the last 17 years, Every Child Succeeds has engaged communities as equal partners in serving children and families with home visiting and other strategies, as determined, developed, and enhanced by community members. ECS also shares research and practice with others who seek to enrich their communities through home visiting programs, support family and child well-being, and develop approaches for creating healthy, vibrant communities.
We are pleased to offer our Community Engagement Manual as a resource for other organizations and communities.
Packaged as a “how-to” guide including tools for action, this document is designed to help agencies in other cities develop strategies to maximize the success of home visiting through effective community engagement, partnership, and participatory action research.
The guide is based upon lessons from a project in Avondale, one of several Cincinnati neighborhoods with a high concentration of mothers, babies, and families at risk. As Avondale community leaders and champions, including business leaders, residents, and pastors, began working to address disparities in maternal and child health, ECS developed an enhanced home visiting program that leveraged their involvement and commitment.
The project provides support groups (sometimes called “moms clubs”), a community pantry, and other supports in locations such as a church where community members congregate, making it easy for families to take advantage of resources and reinforcing that the program is part of the community. The program also relied on a community engagement coordinator, as dedicated program staff, and trained, paid liaisons from the community.
The ECS Community Engagement Manual
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The results and improved outcomes are described in detail in the guide. They include for example:
• Improved program retention: 51% of families enrolled in the project community stayed with the program for a year, compared to 38% of their counterparts enrolled in a standard ECS home visiting program.
• Greater number of home visits: Families in the project community had 20 visits on average, compared to 14 for those enrolled in a standard ECS home visiting program.
• Shorter wait times: Families in the program community had a shorter wait time between referral to home visiting and the initial home visit than those enrolled in a standard ECS home visiting program.
A growing body of evidence indicates that social capital, social cohesion, and other community factors affect family experience and outcomes, including participation in home visiting. Tying the home visiting program to a physical space in the community is important for enrichment of home visiting. Community-based enrichment of home visiting recognizes that it is the community – not the home visiting program – that understands its unique strengths, resources, and challenges.
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If you would like to talk to a member of the Every Child Succeeds staff who can offer additional detail, please contact us at 513-636-2830.
We welcome your feedback and we would be delighted to learn more about your experiences.