Guest blog post by Kimberly Thomas, Parents as Teachers manager at Porter-Leath
Through the Prenatal to Age 3 Impact and Improvement Network, I had the opportunity to help impact home visitation in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee. The Impact and Improvement Network is a collaboration of communities from across the country building strategies to improve results for families and children aged 0 to 3. To reach more families with our support services, my team has developed a strategy to increase enrollment in the Parent as Teachers program that I manage here at Porter-Leath.
The Parent as Teachers program uses evidence-based curriculum to develop positive parent-child relationships, connects families with community resources and promotes the overall health and wellbeing of the child.
Here are three of our insights from our work:
To develop solutions, you need to get to the root cause of the issue.
The Parents as Teachers team recruited families, but they weren’t turning those families into clients. Our team created a process map that allowed us to identify roadblocks to enrollment into the program, and this deeper dive showed that some of those barriers came from what we were communicating with families.
The way we talk about our programs and our work matters.
We noticed that some potential clients did not want to enroll in the home visitation program after showing interest during the initial contact, because what they were actually looking for was child care services. To reach the right families, we developed a script to better describe the program with insights and feedback from clients, educators and more.
We shared the new script with staff and affiliates to ensure that everyone was communicating the same information about the program. Now when we first meet with families, everyone understands what we offer.
Changing the way we talked about the program had a big impact. After we implemented the script into our recruitment process, our enrollment numbers increased by 9 percentage points.
Keeping partners informed about your results can make them excited to make changes, rather than hesitant.
Moving forward, we’re hoping to capitalize on this momentum with other home-visiting programs to ensure that together, we’re reaching as many families as possible. Throughout the process, we kept the full Early Success Coalition, a Shelby County coalition of home-visiting programs, informed on our process and results.
At first, other home visitation programs were hesitant to make changes, because they each have their own process for enrollment. As our enrollment increased, we watched key program staff grow from hesitant to actively interested in going through a similar process in hopes of seeing the same positive change we’re seeing with Parents as Teachers. We’ve already started working with another program to identify key themes to attract new clients by interviewing current clients.
We’re excited for the prospect of improving enrollment rates across home-visiting programs and look forward to continuing to see the positive impact of our time with the Prenatal to Age 3 Impact and Improvement Network. We’re grateful for this opportunity and the incredible impact the work has had on our programs and the families of Memphis.
Kimberly Thomas manages the Parents as Teachers program at Porter-Leath, a partner of Cradle to Career Network member Seeding Success. Seeding Success is one of six network members participating in the StriveTogether Prenatal to Age 3 Impact and Improvement Network, in partnership with the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.