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Dec/Jan 2006Vol. 6, No. 10Improving Home Visitors' Skills

Success of home visitation may depend on the specific competencies and skills of the home visitor, according to a recent study that explored the difficulty and frequency of situations encountered by child welfare workers making home visits. The study sought to identify these difficult situations in order to recommend areas of training for home visitors.

Focus groups composed of 114 home visitors from Arizona were used to generate a sample of common problematic situations that face home visitors. These problematic situations were then rated on a questionnaire by 91 home visitors completing a mail survey. Some of the most difficult situations included:

  • Working with families with limited resources
  • Addressing substance abuse
  • Working with families with mental illness
  • Dealing with unmotivated families

The study's authors suggest that many difficult situations encountered by home visitors are context-specific and training curricula should focus on developing the competencies needed to deal with these situations. This type of training may be more effective than just providing information or requiring home visitors to have advanced degrees.

The study, "Improving the Quality of Home Visitation: An Exploratory Study of Difficult Situations," by C. W. LeCroy and K. Whitaker, can be found in the September 2005 issue of Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, available online at