Relationship-Based Approach to Early Home Visiting Impacts Staff, Family Perspectives

The Facilitating Attuned Interactions (FAN) approach, developed by Erikson Institute’s Fussy Baby Network®, aims to build parenting capacity and self-efficacy by encouraging home visitors to focus on parents’ concerns and needs. Chapin Hall’s evaluation of the FAN training found that using the approach helped staff understand and regulate their own feelings and see parents’ perspectives. In turn, home visits were more collaborative and parents felt more confident, as home visitors supported them in solving their own problems.

What We Did

We conducted a quasi-experimental mixed-methods evaluation to understand the effects of the training on program staff and parents in the program. Training in the FAN approach was delivered to home visitors and supervisors of nine Healthy Families America home visiting programs in Illinois over an 18-month period. A 10th Healthy Family America program served as a no-training comparison site.

What We Found

The impact of the training on the staff’s practice was assessed through interviews/focus groups and surveys with the following samples:

  • Home visitors
  • Supervisors
  • Consultants and FAN Trainers
  • Parents

Use of the FAN approach gave parents “a voice” and home visitors a framework for noticing and talking about their emotions, which encouraged parents to discuss their concerns and strengthened staff-parent relationships. We found through the study that:

  • FAN training helped home visitors understand and regulate their own feelings during visits, and they became more comfortable in holding and exploring parents’ negative feelings rather than avoiding discussing emotions or quickly jumping to reassure.
  • Home visitors found the approach particularly valuable in stressful situations, helping them think clearly before responding.
  • Home visitors shifted from feeling pressure to solve problems for parents to collaborating with parents to find solutions.
  • Supervisor support was key to implementing and sustaining use of the approach.
  • Standardized measures of parenting stress, maternal self-efficacy, and depression yielded mixed results.

What It Means

The FAN training can strengthen home visiting staff’s mindfulness and reflective capacity and encourage them to explore solutions with parents instead solving problems for them. The reduced burden and pressure felt by home visitors may reduce their job stress levels and prevent staff turnover.

The effects of the FAN training on home visiting staff and families align with the aims of the Healthy Family America home visiting model:

  • Home visits were more focused on parenting and more collaborative between parents and staff, aligning with the aim to promote positive parenting.
  • Confidence and self-sufficiency increased in parents who were able to solve their own problems.

To improve impact, FAN program implementers should consider a shorter training period, clearer training goals and expectations, and flexibility within each program. Further research is needed to understand the impact of the program on families, as our results were mixed.

Recommended Citation
Spielberger, J., Burkhardt, T., Winje, C., Gouvea, M., Barisik, E. (2016). Evaluation of the Fussy Baby Network Advanced Training. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
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