Home visiting is a popular component of programs for HIV-affected children in sub-Saharan Africa, but its implementation varies widely. While some home visitors are lay volunteers, other programs invest in more highly trained paraprofessional staff. This paper describes a study investigating whether additional investment in paraprofessional staffing translated into higher quality service delivery in one program context. Beneficiary children and caregivers at sites in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa were interviewed after 2 years of program enrollment and asked to report about their experiences with home visiting. Analysis focused on intervention exposure, including visit intensity, duration and the kinds of emotional, informational and tangible support provided. Few beneficiaries reported receiving home visits in program models primarily driven by lay volunteers; when visits did occur, they were shorter and more infrequent. Paraprofessional-driven programs not only provided significantly more home visits, but also provided greater interaction with the child, communication on a larger variety of topics, and more tangible support to caregivers. These results suggest that programs that invest in compensation and extensive training for home visitors are better able to serve and retain beneficiaries, and they support a move toward establishing a professional workforce of home visitors to support vulnerable children and families in South Africa.
Citation: Kidman, R., Nice, J., Taylor, T., & Thurman, T.R. (2014). Home visiting programs for HIV-affected families: a comparison of service quality between volunteer-driven and paraprofessional models. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 9 (4), 305-317