Project Engage

Project Engage – Project Engage is a research study aimed at examining how cell phones can be used to promote parent engagement in home visiting, and how home visitors can support parents in using naturalistic strategies for promoting child communication development. With these two goals in mind, we are working in collaboration with three agencies providing home-based interventions to families: Project EAGLE (Kansas City, Kansas), SEK-CAP (Southeast Kansas), and Wyandotte County Infant-Toddler Services (Kansas City, Kansas). Engage has two main goals. First, we are conducting a randomized controlled trial in which we are examining the benefits of adding cell phone technology to an intervention that has been shown to result in an increase in parents’ use of language promoting strategies, and in improving child language outcomes. Specifically, we are examining how cellular phones can be used within home visiting programs to (1) improve parent participation and engagement, and (2) enhance parents’ use of strategies aimed at promoting child communication development. Families are randomly assigned to either receive the cellular phone intervention enhancement as part of their home visPhoto Release Form: 3iting program, or to not receive the cellular phone intervention. This will allow us to examine what added benefits text messages and cellular phone calls provide when used by home visiting programs. Text messaging and cell phone calls offer the possibility of maintaining communication with parents who can be difficult to reach and engage in consistent home-based interventions. Cellular phones also increase the opportunities to provide prompts and reminders to families to implement parenting strategies across the day. Earlier research conducted at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project demonstrated that cellular phones can be an effective strategy for improving parent engagement and program completion, as well as parent and child outcomes.

Our second goal is to examine the impact of an intervention aimed at building parents’ capacity to promote their child’s communication and language development through the use of evidence-based, naturalistic strategies. All participating parents receive the Promoting Communication strategies as part of their ongoing home visits. We know from the sDSCN6270eminal study conducted by Hart & Risley that the language children hear up through three years of age has a significant impact on their language growth and development. On Project Engage, home visitors support parents during their weekly home visits in using naturalistic language strategies to provide opportunities for children hear and practice language throughout their daily interactions. Intervention coaches provide mentoring and coaching to the home visitors on implementation of the language promoting intervention, as well as use of the cellular phone on conjunction with these language strategies.

Families are currently being recruited between the ages of 6-30 months of age, and following initial assessments, intervention is embedded within home visits until children are 36 months of age. This project is currently underway, and we look forward to sharing results with you soon!

This research is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).