Federal and state policymakers and philanthropies are increasingly emphasizing the use of evidence to drive policy decisions. One of the areas in the forefront of evidence-based policymaking is early childhood intervention strategy, home visiting.
As lead evaluator of the Texas Home Visiting (THV) program, the largest home visiting program in the country, serving over 6,500 families in 13 diverse communities across the state, Dr. Osborne writes of the lessons learned and limits of “evidence-based” policymaking in Home Visiting Program: Four Evidence-Based Lessons for Policymakers.
Dr. Osborne and her paper are being recognized at the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ 2017 Innovation Bound annual celebration of the works of its distinguished faculty.
Dr. Cynthia Osborne is a policy professor at the The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs and the director of both the Center for Health and Social Policy and the Child and Family Research Partnership. She has extensive experience conducting long-term evaluations of state and national programs, with the aim of helping organizations understand what works and why, and how to ensure sustainable implementation of effective policies.
For more about our work on home visiting, go to http://childandfamilyresearch.org/research/eci-hv/.
The full paper is available from the Behavioral Science & Policy Association: https://behavioralpolicy.org/article/home-visiting-programs-four-evidence-based-lessons-for-policymakers/
Home visiting programs (HVPs) aim to help low-income parents enhance their parenting skills and improve a host of early health and developmental outcomes for young children. Over the past five decades, numerous HVP models have been developed and implemented, albeit with modest or even null results, according to meta-analyses and comprehensive reviews. In 2010, in an effort to advance HVPs’ effectiveness, federal lawmakers vastly expanded funding for HVPs with certain caveats, one being the requirement that the majority of programs be evidence based. Although the new requirement is a policy win, this review presents four main areas that must be addressed and improved upon if this new funding effort is to maximize positive outcomes. Pointedly, HVPs should have built-in flexibility for states to match the specific or unique needs of a family to a program model that has demonstrated effectiveness in meeting those specific needs. Further, program developers should clearly demonstrate what it is specifically about their model that works, in what context, and for whom. Ultimately, not unlike personalized medicine, state policymakers should target delivery of the right HVP model to the right family at the right time.