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Audrey Laszewski, project director of the Early Years Home Visitation Outcomes Project of Wisconsin, describes how a stakeholder collaboration resulted in a common outcome measurement process.

The Early Years Home Visitation Outcomes Project of Wisconsin¹ is an initiative to measure common outcomes across various home-visitation program curricula and model types. Over the course of 5 years, the Project has grown into a broad collaboration involving service providers, and public and private funding entities, who want to speak with a unified voice about the impact of home visitation in Wisconsin. With the goal of developing a common outcome measurement process, the Project is measuring six outcomes in 10 pilot sites across the state, using the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Health’s web-based data collection system. The pilot sites represent various program models and sizes and are located in both urban and rural settings. Sites will collect outcome data over a 5-year period.

Unique aspects of this project include (1) its promotion of a model-free outcome measurement system that allows programs to use the model/curriculum that best meets their community needs, (2) participants’ agreement that program activities logically impact the project outcomes, and (3) voluntary participation.


Key Components of the Early Years Home Visitation Outcomes Project of Wisconsin

• Engage and re-engage stakeholders throughout the process.
• Be reasonable in your expectations.
• Invest resources and time to establish common ground/vision.
• Allow ample time for organizations to make project requirements operational within their program.
• Invest resources, especially training and technology, to support programs in measuring outcomes.
• Provide a safe and neutral environment to meet with other professionals, share challenges, and find solutions.

Stakeholders representing funding entities, home-visitation programs, and quality assurance and evaluation met to select, design, and implement the common outcome measurement system. The opportunity to develop a system for accountability based on sound evaluation methods that would be acceptable to multiple funding entities served as a key impetus for participation among home-visitation programs. In addition, the collaboration afforded programs access to research-based training on various data collection tools and methods, thus offering professional development opportunities to enhance individual program quality.

These key stakeholders identified several criteria for selecting outcomes. They specified that outcomes should be common across multiple home-visiting programs, critical to healthy families, reasonable to measure, useable for decision making and program improvement, and consistent with “best practice.” Using these criteria, stakeholders arrived at six common outcomes:

  1. Parents interact with their children in ways that enhance children’s development and early learning.
  2. Children are healthy.
  3. Children live in a safe environment.
  4. Families access formal and informal support networks.
  5. Children achieve optimal milestones in development and early learning.
  6. Children with developmental delays receive appropriate intervention services.

Several factors played a significant role in establishing the Project’s collaborative infrastructure: shared focus on common outcomes for children and families rather than on differences between program models and components, common vision for potential legislative change in funding and policy for family support programs, and program readiness to conduct outcome measurement but limited resources to conduct solid evaluation. From the beginning, an emphasis on active participation by stakeholders representing various organizational levels secured the necessary buy-in for successful implementation. Decision making by consensus resulted in shared ownership of the Project. In 2005 the Project plans to document the process used and identify key components of successful infrastructure building.

By working together and discussing issues that are important in Wisconsin, we have built relationships among various stakeholders based on trust and common ground. The specific outcomes, tools, and indicators we selected make sense for our state; however, each state or community must engage in dialogue to articulate its particular values and common ground. For an initiative of this type to succeed, its strength must come from active participation of its stakeholders and from the alignment of program strategies to desired outcomes.

The Early Years Home Visitation Outcomes Project of Wisconsin began collecting outcome data in July 2004. Over the next 5 years, the Project will focus on supporting pilot sites in their outcome measurement process, determining the process for aggregate data analysis, and exploring the use of the findings to strengthen the participating programs’ performance. In addition, the Project will seek funding to expand participation to more home-visitation programs in Wisconsin. Our hope is that the Project will serve as a model for use by other states.

¹ The Project receives financial and in-kind support from Children’s Hospital, Health System’s Child Abuse Prevention Fund, and Parents Plus of Wisconsin (in partnership with the state’s Department of Health and Family Service, Division of Public Health.

Audrey Laszewski
Performance Works
3003 Sonoran Court
Green Bay, WI 54313
Tel: 920-405-6747

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