Questions About the PTHV Model
Q: Do parent/teacher home visits always look the same across the national network?
A: Each community has adopted and adapted the basic model to address local needs. However, there are five “non-negotiables” that will always be the same throughout our network.
- Visits are voluntary for everyone, and offered to all (no targeting)
- Participating staff are trained and compensated for home visiting time
- Staff members conduct visits in teams of 2 (second person may be interpreter)
- First visit is ALWAYS relationship building— shared hopes and dreams— no paperwork!
- Staff reflects on what they learned and how they will apply it in school
Q: Why is the program voluntary? Why not make it mandatory if it is so great?
A: Home visits aren’t for everyone. Based upon community organizing principles, the transformative power of PTHV is in the relationships it builds between families, educators and their students. We never, ever, want teachers or families to bring a “forced” feeling to a visit. In our experience, real relationship can only be built by willing colleagues who come together as equals, ready to learn from each other. We find that if we “start with the willing,” word of the program’s success spreads to teachers and families who were initially reluctant, and many of them give it a try.
Q: Our school already does home visits, but not the PTHV model. Do we need PTHV?
A: Each school decides if our model is a good fit. Key questions for them to explore include:
- Is the reason we visit triggered by negative concerns (ie: poor attendance, behavioral problems, low academics), or is it across the board?
- Do we train our staff so there is a common agreement as to what a successful home visit looks like?
- Are the visits conducted by just a few of site staff (principal, family advocate, social worker?), or open to all teachers?
- Do we build in reflection time after visits to encourage capacity building?
- How is our home visiting effort linked back to learning at school?
Q: Why is it important that everyone at the school- especially classroom teachers- be able to participate in home visits?
A: This model is designed to help with overall school and student success by doing home visits at scale, rather than one or two designated visitors on staff. There needs to be a tipping point of participation in order to see school-wide change (and not just in individual classrooms – even though that is good, too). Here are a few of the reasons teachers tell us it is important that they participate:
- Teachers can learn more about their “co-educators” (parents) by learning about the family’s academic experiences and hopes and dreams for their child.
- Teachers can increase their cultural proficiency through the home visiting experience by understanding the unique strengths the family brings to the equation, and becoming aware of any unconscious assumptions they previously held about families with different cultures than theirs.
- They can better engage students and differentiate instruction having learned about the student’s interests when not in school.
- Visits renew and affirm teachers, remind them why they went into teaching, and help avoid burnout.
- Administrators and staff can develop their relationships with the teachers they accompany on visits, learn more about their students, build relationships with the community, and also feel renewal and appreciation from families.
Questions About the PTHV Organization & Network
Q: How is your organization administered and funded?
A: PTHV is a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization with a small staff that raises its budget every year from foundation grants, individual and organizational donations and training fees. We have a volunteer board of directors that is representative of our projects and partners throughout the US.
Q: Who is in your network?
A: Parent Teacher Home Visits (PTHV) has network of school communities we call Projects that have adopted and adapted our relationship-building approach to home-school partnership in widely diverse places. While we all do things a little differently, we follow core practices, aka the five non-negotiables, that make our home visits high-impact, sustainable and successful.
Q: What is a HUB?
A: In five states – NV, CO, CA, MA and MN – well-established local home visit projects have grown into HUBs, with the mission to expand and support home visit efforts statewide. Each HUB is certified by the PTHV network to do trainings in their state, and may provide or participate in consultation, data collection, evaluation, media relations, public advocacy, joint funding initiatives and conferences within their state, or in concert with the national network.
The PTHV network pays the part-time HUB Coordinator, provides strategic support and serves as a fiduciary agent when HUBs need to administer grants, pay trainers or fund other activities. PTHV helps HUBs win designated foundation grants, and also uses its general funds to support HUB administration and staff compensation. A portion of training fees earned by the HUB goes back to the network.
Collaboration is key to the PTHV model, and HUBs take that to the next level with regional and statewide partners that share our transformative vision for public education, advocate for home visits in public policy, and commit resources to sustaining local home visit projects in their state.
HUBs play a unique role between local projects and the national network. The two-way flow of support between HUBs and the network results in the evolution of best practices for program, policy, evaluation, communications and funding. Process and product innovations are shared with the larger network via the PTHV website toolkit, newsletter and the National Gathering, PTHV’s annual conference. HUBs send significant delegations to the National Gathering each year and occasionally host it in their state.
Questions About Training
Q: We have willing partners and a plan with a budget – when can we do the home visit training? What is involved?
- Determine a date or two that works for you then contact Yesenia Gonzalez at Yesenia@pthvp.orgor at 916-539-5601 to secure a date and make an invoicing and billing plan (often district funding requires advance paperwork).
- Once you have a date and time, arrange for a place to train your group.
- Invite at least 50% of the staff and any other interested partners to the training- (not to exceed 60 without prior approval of PTHVP staff).
- Designate a site coordinator who helps arrange site logistics and keeps track of the visiting experiences for the school staff and liaisons with PTHV staff with ongoing questions, concerns, success stories, etc.
Q: What does the home visit training cover?
A: Training sessions are 3 hours and cover the model we use, the research that supports it, a step by step guide of how to do an effective home visit, teacher and parent testimony, role plays and a frank discussion of all likely barriers and/or site specific questions and concerns.
Q: What happens after the training?
A: The PTHVP staff will be available to you by phone for 3 hours of post-training consultation and can arrange for an in-person response if needed. Here are general “next steps”:
- Follow up to the training includes PTHV staff consultation, and review of individual and site plans before participants begin.
- Home visits begin, participants bill the school/district for their time, site coordinator helps colleagues with questions or concerns.
- At least 1-2 opportunities for teachers and parents to share their home visiting experiences take place at staff or school meetings within the first month of home visiting launch.
- Two to three months after the launch of home visits, participants gather for 1 hour to reflect on the visits- what worked, the challenges, what are some personal experiences about assumptions about the families and/or students and learning from the home visit? Plan is revisited to see if site is on track to reach visit goals and, if not, mid-course corrections made.
- End of year billing and reflections completed, data collected, plans for expansion or sustainability completed for following year.
Q: Can we become PTHVP trainers in our community?
A: Yes! This is meant to be a locally run effort. After the first year of PTHVP, we can return to offer a full day Train the Trainer (TOT) session for a select group of parents and teachers who have been actively involved in home visiting efforts during the prior year.
Note: Often we are asked if we will do a TOT session right away to cut down on costs, but in our experience that is not a successful practice. People need to have directly experienced the project. For teachers that means at least 10 home visits, and for parents it means 1-2 visits and a chance to share their experiences with others.
Questions about Funding
Q: What is the cost for a home visit program?
A: The cost of home visits is often of immediate concern but we find it is not usually the barrier for home visits ultimately taking place, even in difficult budget years. Here is some general information to help with your planning:
- The fee for introductory home visit training is $3,500 for three hours (not including travel costs) for a team of three – parent/teacher/facilitator. This includes the cost of time, materials and follow-up phone consultation.
- The cost of visits varies by local contracts, but on average range between $50-$80 for two staff to conduct one visit. Most schools can run a vibrant and effective home visit program for less than $10,000 a year.
- Funding to support home visits often starts with seed funding (especially for training) from foundations, corporations, unions or other sources but can also be connected to state and federal grants with family engagement requirements.
- Home visiting is most often sustained across the country with Title I funding.
Q: What about safety? What are other common barriers for parent/teacher home visits?
A: We are always asked about safety but our program addresses those concerns very directly in our training. In brief, teachers go in teams of two to visits set up in advance, and we have never had an issue of personal safety.
Q: What about mandated reporting?
A: Since all visits are voluntary and set up in advance, it is highly unlikely that a teacher would walk in on a reportable situation. Our training covers these issues and more.
Q: Who has the time for this? How is this even possible without feeling like a great big add on to everything already on our plate?
A: First of all, teachers are compensated for their time, and second, schools and families who have tried it are adamant that the benefits far outweigh the modest effort required.
Questions about Outcomes: How do we know it works? What data should we collect?
Q: What kinds of outcomes should we expect to measure and/or changes we expect to see as a result of parent/teacher home visits?
A: There are several ways to track home visiting outcomes:
- student performance indicators
- teaching satisfaction and turnover
- instruction and classroom changes
- school climate indicators
The PTHV national network has templates to share depending on the kind of data you are looking to collect and analyze. See our Toolbox, and contact us to discuss finding the methodology that is best for you.
Q: What evidence is there that home visits make a difference in the bottom line – student achievement?
A: Evaluations of the PTHV model have been done in various locations. You can read more about it on the Results page of our website.