Increasing participation and improving engagement in home visitation: A qualitative study of early head start parent perspectives

Grace S. Hubel, Alayna Schreier, Brian L. Wilcox, Mary Fran Flood, David J. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Home visitation programs are designed to provide comprehensive services that promote parent's abilities to create stable, nurturing care environments for their children. In order for program goals to be met, parents must participate actively and be engaged with the programs' mission. However, promoting engagement and participation are complex processes that have been understudied in research on home visitation. The current qualitative study examined how a national, federally funded home visitation program, Early Head Start (EHS), engaged and retained families so that potentially helpful preventative interventions could be delivered. The study also identified barriers to active engagement. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 parents of children enrolled in EHS. Findings suggest that engagement increased when EHS reduced social isolation by forming connections among parents and when the program focused on involving parents in fostering their children's meeting of important developmental milestones. Barriers to engagement identified included logistical and organizational challenges, as well as parental biases and differences in values and attitudes. Practice and policy recommendations for improving EHS and other programs that serve similar populations to increase engagement are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalInfants and Young Children
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Early Head Start
  • Engagement
  • Home visitation
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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