Early Steps to School Success™—Home Visiting

Last updated: 2019

Model overview

Theoretical approach

Early Steps to School Success™ (Early Steps) is based on the premise that the five years before a child enters the formal education system is an important window of learning and enrichment. However, low-income families, particularly those who live in resource-poor rural areas, often lack the resources and support needed to promote their children’s early learning. Consequently, children experiencing poverty may find themselves behind their peers developmentally when they enter school.

The model aims to address this challenge by offering the following activities to low-income families with children from birth until the child’s fifth birthday:

  • Home visits for children from birth until the child’s third birthday;
  • Parent support groups held at a local school that include activities such as toddler storybook hours, parenting education groups, and family nights;
  • Referrals to enter center-based early childhood programs upon the child’s third birthday;
  • A book bag exchange to supply families with children’s books until kindergarten entry; and
  • Transition to preschool and kindergarten support, including developing individualized transition plans and providing transition activities such as visiting the classroom and meeting the teachers; home visits by the kindergarten teacher; a summer preparation program in the months before kindergarten; and workshops for building relationships between parents and schools.

Early Steps is typically implemented by local school districts. The model’s connection to the school system is designed to facilitate home-school collaboration and engagement from the time a child is born. Connection to the broader community is also key to Early Steps implementation. Early Steps programs strive to foster communities' engagement and early childhood knowledge to support families with young children and to connect families to local services. To that end, the local Early Steps program hosts community events such as literacy fairs and story walks, and activities with local law enforcement and other public groups.

The HomVEE review focuses on the home visiting component of the model (Early Steps-Home Visiting), including other activities facilitated by the home visitor, such as toddler storybook hours, parenting education groups, and family nights.

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Model services

Early Steps-Home Visiting provides home visits designed to help parents foster their children’s development and education. The home visitor, referred to as an early childhood coordinator, uses the Ages and Stages Questionnaire regularly to monitor the child’s development. In collaboration with the family, the home visitor uses the questionnaire results to create child development goals. The home visitor refers the family to community providers for follow-up assessment, as needed.

During visits, the home visitor supports parents in establishing healthy sleep routines, developing positive parent–child interactions, and helping toddlers develop self-control and problem-solving skills. Home visitors also offer suggestions on activities designed to promote children’s growth and development. The home visitor and the family discuss the child development activities that the family has done since the last visit and any developmental gains the child has made. The home visitor also brings books that are age and culturally appropriate to leave with the family. Over the course of the program, the home visitor helps the family develop a child portfolio that includes items such as assessment results, photos, immunization records, and the child’s artwork.

The home visitor also facilitates parent–child groups that include activities such as toddler storybook hours, parenting education groups, and family nights.

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Intended population

Early Steps-Home Visiting seeks to engage low-income families with children from birth to age 3 living in resource-poor rural areas.

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Where to find out more

Save the Children
Barb Lunnemann, National Director
Judith Jerald, Senior Advisor
501 Kings Highway East, Suite 400
Fairfield, CT 06925
Phone: 1-800-728-3843
Email: supportercare@savechildren.org; blunnemann@savechildren.orgjjerald@savechildren.org
Website: https://www.savethechildren.org/us/what-we-do/us-programs/us-education/early-steps-to-school-success

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