In Yakima County, Home Visitors Get Professional and Peer Support for Safety Concerns


By Emily McPhee
Home Visiting Collaborative Coordinator
Investing in Children Coalition of South Central Washington




Central_4In Central Washington, a group of home visiting program supervisors meet monthly to dream. Their collective dream is to create a better system with improved access for families and to help support staff in the field. This group, called the Home Visiting Collaborative, was formed under the Investing in Children Coalition of South Central Washington with funding assistance from Thrive by Five Washington.
One of their dreams: Engage home visitors in an educational forum to increase knowledge of home visitor safety, build skills, and to develop networks and support systems while providing updates on current safety topics.
In September, this dream became a reality.
In Yakima County there are many home visitors serving families and children. Home visiting includes professionals knocking on all types of doors in order to meet enrolled families exactly where they are at; safety is a constant concern.
In late September, 200 Yakima County home visitors (representing 23 programs from 10 agencies) gathered to talk about safety.

The topics included:

  • Personal safety and environmental awareness
  • Updates on gang awareness
  • Updates on drug use in the home

The speakers included:

  • A mental health professional
  • A drug and alcohol professional
  • A law enforcement panel, including:
    • Yakima Police Department Gang Task Force
    • Yakima County Sheriff’s Office
    • Yakima County Probation
    • Sunnyside Police Department

Informational tables covered:

  • Bed bugs
  • Home visiting programs statewide
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Central Washington Vaccine Preventable Disease Coalition

Other collaboratives throughout the state could learn from and replicate an event of this kind. It was a four-hour event that took approximately five months to plan, with an operating budget of $1,500. The keys to success were the great collaboration among agencies, the enthusiasm of home visitors, and the role of a coordinator to help facilitate the details.
Many attendees left the event saying they felt a sense of camaraderie and support with increased knowledge of common safety concerns. The event was also able to reinforce a working relationship between home visitors and local law enforcement.
At the end, the collaborative group was supplied with an additional list of dreams, and the work toward a better system will continue.