I’ve often noted that when a family service provider sees items on the ASQ child development assessment marked “Yes”, she will celebrate the child’s skills with the parents and often discuss next developmental steps. And when she sees items marked “Not Yet”, she will structure her services with the family to promote the child’s development of those skills. For example, if a child is delayed in fine motor skills, she introduces activities to stimulate development of those pathways, like picking up Cheerios or filling a jar with buttons. However, when an assessment reveals strengths and gaps in a parent’s skills, I am commonly asked, “What do I do next?” I wonder why the responses to child development and parenting assessment results are so different.
KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research
I’m excited to share a new 2014 report, titled Measuring What Matters: A Guide for Children’s Centres. The report was developed in the United Kingdom by Jill Roberts and Angela Donkin, with Demetris Pillas, University College London Institute for Health Equity (IHE). This report lays out a framework of child and parent outcomes for Children’s Centres and recommends common measures for assessing these outcomes. The recommendations were developed from a series of steps including a review of the research literature, expert advisory panel input, field visits, and weighing the existing evidence. The guiding principle for the outcomes framework was: “children’s centres need to be focusing on and measuring what is important, not just what can be easily measured” (Measuring What Matters: A Guide for Children’s Centres, page 10).
One morning over breakfast, Laura started crying. Sobbing, she looked at her husband and said, “I don’t know what’s happened to me. I used to love working with parents, but now I think I need to quit my job.” Laura has been a home visitor 6 years. At first she totally loved her work. She got up each morning filled with energy and optimism about what the day would bring. Over time, things changed. Funding cuts led to larger caseloads. She could barely keep up with her families, paperwork and parenting assessments. Demands on her supervisors’ time increased so much that they rarely met anymore. Laura stopped taking time off, feeling like she just couldn’t because there was so much to do. Sometimes the families she worked with blurred into a mass of never-ending needs and she started wishing they’d just leave her alone. She was always tired, no matter how much sleep she got. She felt as though no matter how hard she worked or how many hours she put in, things never got better. She couldn’t remember anymore what it felt like to be excited about her work.