Date

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School Psychology

First Adviser

Manz, Patricia H.

Other advisers/committee members

Nicolopoulou, Ageliki; Roggman, Lori; Woodhouse, Susan

Abstract

Home visiting is a service delivery method often used to support young children of low socioeconomic status (SES) and their families. The support provided to families’ early in their children’s lives is designed to buffer some of the risk that is present for children of low SES across developmental areas. Unfortunately, despite the large amount of funding that has been invested and the great need for effective home visiting services, home visiting research has produced inconsistent findings regarding its effectiveness. Further research is needed to determine which home visiting factors are associated with the effectiveness of home visiting programs. One key factor often explored through the home visiting research is the home visitor-parent relationship. Published literature across other fields demonstrates that an important facet of the development of the practitioner-client relationship is practitioners’ knowledge and understanding of clients’ beliefs. Unfortunately, the importance of home visitors’ awareness of and adjustment to families’ beliefs has not been discussed despite the discussion of this concept in other disciplines. Furthermore, despite the association between parents’ play beliefs and children’s play involvement and the fundamental role that play has in child-development focused home visiting programs, the home visiting literature does not discuss home visitor knowledge of parents’ play beliefs. Given these limitations of the home visiting literature, the present study examined the extent to which Early Head Start (EHS) home visitors (child development partners; CDPs) were knowledgeable about the play beliefs of the parents they served and whether their level of awareness of their parents’ play beliefs was associated with home visiting quality. Additionally, the present investigation examined the ways in which CDPs reported adapting their practice based on the play beliefs of the parents they serve. Findings demonstrated that there was large variability in CDPs’ awareness of the play beliefs of the families they served. The participating CDPs and parents reported on their personal play beliefs and tended to respond similarly. The relation between the match between the CDPs’ and parents’ personal play beliefs and the CDPs’ accuracy in predicting the parents’ play beliefs approached significance. Neither the duration of families’ enrollment nor the number of visits conducted between families and CDPs significantly predicted the CDPs’ awareness of the parents’ beliefs about play. The consistency between the CDPs’ predictions and parents’ reported beliefs was not a significant predictor of home visiting quality. Every CDP reported that she adjusts her practice based on the play beliefs of the parents she serves.

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