[Discussions on reports presented at the joint session of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR on "Health and education of preschool children" in Gorky, September 5-7, 1978].
CONTEXTUAL ISSUES FOR IMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION OF HOME-VISITATION PROGRAMS FOR AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE COMMUNITIES: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TRIBAL MATERNAL, INFANT, AND EARLY CHILDHOOD HOME VISITING PROGRAM.
Home-visiting programs have become a key component of evidence-based services for pregnant women, new mothers, their infants, and their families. When Congress authorized the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) in 2010, it set aside 3% of the $1.5 billion in funding to support home-visiting programs operated by tribes, Tribal MIECHV programs have been funded in 14 states and have served over 3,100 families, providing nearly 55,000 home visits to families at risk for poor child, maternal, and family outcomes. In this Introduction to the Special Issue of the Infant Mental Health Journal on the Tribal MIECHV initiative, we provide some key contexts of the work of the Tribal MIECHV grantees as well as an overview of the issues covered in the other articles.
Early childhood home-visiting has been shown to yield the greatest impact for the lowest income, highest disparity families. Yet, poor communities generally experience fractured systems of care, a paucity of providers, and limited resources to deliver intensive home-visiting models to families who stand to benefit most. This article explores lessons emerging from the recent Tribal Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) legislation supporting delivery of home-visiting interventions in low-income, hard-to-reach American Indian and Alaska Native communities. We draw experience from four diverse tribal communities that participated in the Tribal MIECHV Program and overcame socioeconomic, geographic, and structural challenges that called for both early childhood home-visiting services and increased the difficulty of delivery. Key innovations are described, including unique community engagement, recruitment and retention strategies, expanded case management roles of home visitors to overcome fragmented care systems, contextual demands for employing paraprofessional home visitors, and practical advances toward streamlined evaluation approaches. We draw on the concept of "frugal innovation" to explain how the experience of Tribal MIECHV participation has led to more efficient, effective, and culturally informed early childhood home-visiting service delivery, with lessons for future dissemination to underserved communities in the United States and abroad.
Authors in this Special Issue of the Infant Mental Health Journal shared the work of the first three cohorts of Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grantees funded by the Administration for Children and Families. Since 2010, Tribal MIECHV grantees have served families and children prenatally to kindergarten entry in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities across the lower 48 United States and Alaska. Articles highlighted challenges and opportunities that arose as grantees adapted, enhanced, implemented, and evaluated their home-visiting models. This article summarizes nine lessons learned across the articles in this Special Issue. Lessons learned address the importance of strengths-based approaches, relationship-building, tribal community stakeholder involvement, capacity-building, alignment of resources and expectations, tribal values, adaptation to increase cultural and contextual attunement, indigenous ways of knowing, community voice, and sustainability. Next steps in Tribal MIECHV are discussed in light of these lessons learned.
The research that underlies evidence-based practices is often based on relatively homogenous study samples, thus limiting our ability to understand how the study findings apply in new situations as well as our understanding of what might need to be adapted. In a preliminary effort to address those gaps, the requirements for the Tribal Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) included the expectation that grantees design and implement rigorous evaluations to address local priorities and to help build the knowledge base regarding the use of evidence-based home-visiting programs in tribal communities. A priority that emerged across many Tribal MIECHV grantees was to determine the added benefit of the cultural adaptations that they were making to their home-visiting programs. While there is literature to describe recommended processes for making cultural adaptations to evidence-based programs themselves, there are very few guidelines for evaluating these adaptations. In this article, we review the varied evaluation approaches utilized by Tribal MIECHV grantees and provide three case examples of how evaluators and tribal communities worked together to articulate evaluation questions and choose appropriate and feasible evaluation designs. The lessons derived from these Tribal MIECHV evaluation experiences have implications for the role of the evaluator in diverse communities across the country evaluating home visiting and other evidence-based practices in settings characterized by unique cultural contexts.
In this article, Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grantees share strategies they have developed and adopted to address the most common barriers to effective measurement (and thus to effective evaluation) encountered in the course of implementation and evaluation of their home-visiting programs. We identify key challenges in measuring outcomes in Tribal MIECHV Programs and provide practical examples of various strategies used to address these challenges within diverse American Indian and Alaska Native cultural and contextual settings. Notably, high-quality community engagement is a consistent thread throughout these strategies and fundamental to successful measurement in these communities. These strategies and practices reflect the experiences and innovative solutions of practitioners working on the ground to deliver and evaluate intervention programs to tribal communities. They may serve as models for getting high-quality data to inform intervention while working within the constraints and requirements of program funding. The utility of these practical solutions extends beyond the Tribal MIECHV grantees and offers the potential to inform a broad array of intervention evaluation efforts in tribal and other community contexts.
Drawing on previous studies and the collective experience of conducting rigorous evaluations as part of the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting grants, we outline methodological considerations that will inform future research in tribal communities, particularly in the area of home visiting. The methodological issues we discuss are study design choices, measurement and data collection, and including community members in all aspects of the research.