Evaluating a Learning Collaborative Approach to Enhance Caregiver Engagement in Early Childhood Services
Methods: Participants were employees from four community-based programs administered by the Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego Developmental Services Division and primarily funded by the First 5 Commission of San Diego (funding for data collection was supported by NIMH K23-MH080149 awarded to the first author, who served as the trainer). Programs provide screening, assessment, case management, and treatment for developmental and social-emotional problems in children ages 0 to 5 throughout San Diego County. Program leadership selected LC participants. Twenty-nine enrolled in the LC. Of those 25, 17 completed the post-test (three dropped out; five did not return the post-test) and comprise the sample. Participants were 59% Caucasian, 24% Latino, and 17% Other. All were female. Average age was 31 (SD=4.6). Twelve percent had a doctorate; 53% Master’s; 35% BA/AA.
Nine LC sessions were held over a nine-month period. Pre- and post-evaluations were given at the initial and final sessions, including questions about demographics, attitudes about evidence-based practices (Modified Practice Attitudes Scale), and the utility of the LC. Programs also completed PDCA worksheets about their change ideas and outcomes.
Results: Regarding feasibility, participants attended an average of 8.1 sessions. One hundred percent considered the LC worth their time and would recommend it to a friend; 94% reported their program met its LC goals. Regarding participant perspectives, a significant improvement in openness to evidence-based practices was found on the MPAS, t(16)=-3.254, p<.001. Ninety-four percent reported changes in their approach to interacting with families, 82% reported improved attendance, and 100% reported being likely to continue the strategies they implemented. Three programs compared baseline attendance/retention data to post-LC rates and reported improvements (the fourth program was new and unable to provide baseline data).
Conclusions/Implications: Results indicate that the LC is a feasible method for implementing social work engagement interventions for community early childhood services. The LC method appears to enhance participants’ openness to using evidence-based practices and may be effective for implementing additional evidence-based interventions for these populations.