Who Drops Out of Early Head Start Home Visiting Programs?

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Early Education and Development






Taylor and Francis

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Research Findings: Early Head Start home-based programs provide services through weekly home visits to families with children up to age 3, but families vary in how long they remain enrolled. In this study of 564 families in home-based Early Head Start programs, “dropping out” was predicted by specific variations in home visits and certain family characteristics. It also was negatively related to several targeted program outcomes. Home visits to dropout families focused less on child development, were less successful at engaging parents, and had more distractions. Dropout families had more risks and changes of residence, were more likely to be headed by a single mother, and were less likely to have a mother with poor English skills or a child with a documented disability. Practice or Policy: Home visiting programs may be able to reduce dropout rates, and thereby increase the duration of services to each family, by keeping home visits engaging and focused on child development and also by individualizing to the specific needs of families at risk for dropping out. To keep families involved longer, home visiting programs should consider (a) planning home visits that are longer, more engaging for both parent and child, scheduled at a time when there are fewer distractions for the family; and (b) spending the majority of time on child development activities and topics.


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