States and the New Federal Home Visiting Initiative
An Assessment from the Starting Line
The Pew Center on the States surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia about home visiting funding and polices as of fiscal year 2009-2010.
The survey asked three critical policy questions:
- Investment: How much are states investing in home visiting? What are the scale, breadth and range of state-directed funds? What strategies are states using to fund programs?
- Evidence base: Does the state use empirical standards or evidence of program effectiveness to drive funding allocation decisions and to what extent?
- Evaluation: How do states hold local programs accountable for meeting performance measures?
Because many states do not track outcomes, this study did not consider or evaluate the merit of individual programs, models or services. Forthcoming, independent, Pew-funded research will explore some of these topics and seek to answer critical questions of quality and effectiveness that can guide state efforts to maximize investments. Additionally, the standards that will accompany new federal funding will outline specific criteria for selecting models and delivering services.
As a first point of contact in the state, Pew interviewed the State Maternal and Child Health Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) Coordinator, who represents the federal designee to coordinate states’ early childhood systems. In some cases, the ECCS coordinator served as an informant about a specific program, and referred the data collector to other agencies that may oversee home visiting programs.
Because home visiting programs are often administered across different agencies in the state, Pew also contacted multiple state agencies to gather information about programs that may not be housed in the Maternal Child Health office, including Departments of Early Learning, Children’s Trusts, the lead Child Abuse Prevention Agencies and any Children’s Cabinets or Children’s Bureaus.
Data collectors conducted phone interviews with staff at these agencies and used information from interviews to complete surveys. A draft of each completed survey was returned to agency staff to verify data and fill in any gaps. After data collection was finished, data were summarized and returned to program staff to verify.
Data collection period:
Data were collected between December 2009 and May 2010, and focused on funding for FY2009-2010. Some programs may have experienced agency cuts during the course of the year, which are reflected in the final data when possible. Unless noted, service population data is from FY2009, which often was the most recent data available during the data collection period.
Per capita spending:
To assess the size and scale (geographic breadth) of state investments, Pew examined state funding in proportion to the number of low-income children. The per capita expenditure was calculated by dividing a state’s home visiting investment by the number of estimated low-income infants and toddlers who live at or below 125 percent of poverty, based on the U.S. Census’s Current Population Survey.
Accuracy and Comprehensiveness
To ensure the accuracy of the data presented in this report, Pew staff implemented numerous quality control measures. First, Pew identified multiple informants to verify data. When possible, all data were compared with publicly available documents, such as legislative reports, agency budget documents and evaluation reports. Second, all agency staff were given the opportunity to review the final survey and a fact sheet summarizing the data. In August 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a list of the new governor-appointed designees to lead states' efforts on home visiting. As a final data check, Pew sent summaries of all of a state’s programs to the state home visiting lead for verification. Download a list of the lead agency in each state and the status of their data confirmation.