By Valeri Lane, Ph.D.
Project Director, MIECHV Technical Assistance Coordinating Center, ZERO TO THREE
The legislation that makes the MIECHV program possible includes a provision for technical assistance to grantees in administering programs or activities conducted with grant funds. Through a contract with the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), the MIECHV Technical Assistance Coordinating Center (TACC) is one entity responsible for the delivery of this technical assistance (TA).
The TACC contract was awarded to ZERO TO THREE and is comprised of three additional partner organizations. The primary role of ZERO TO THREE is overall administration of the contract, delivery of TA to MIECHV grantees, oversight of subcontracts and continuous quality improvement. Three partner organizations make up the balance of the TACC via subcontracts. AMCHP assists with TA and offers linkages to state and jurisdiction Title V programs. Chapin Hall also assists with TA, and leads TA to the evidence-based models and tasks related to grantee data. Walter R. McDonald and Associates (WRMA) leads the evaluation of TACC TA and the development and maintenance of a system to track data related to technical assistance.
By regulation, the TACC delivers TA to grantees funded through HRSA, specifically the MIECHV state lead and state grantee teams. As topics warrant, the target audience may include the MIECHV team’s state partners such as Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) teams, professional development partners, and so on. It is important to note that the target audience is the state- and jurisdiction-level grantee teams, and not the actual home visiting programs or implementation sites.
The overall structure of TA to MIECHV grantees extends beyond the TACC to encompass additional TA support. For HRSA-funded grantees (state and jurisdiction), the TA structure is represented in Figure 1. In addition to the TACC, MIECHV grantees are supported by Design Options in Home Visiting Evaluation (DOHVE), and the evidence-based model developers. The program implementation sites (local implementing agencies or LIAs) are served by the grantee and the models. A somewhat parallel structure exists for Administration for Children and Families-funded tribal grantees.
The TACC delivers multiple levels of TA, ranging from those intended to support many grantees to those that are specifically targeted to the unique needs of a single grantee.
Universal TA is intended to support all grantees.Topics addressed in universal TA are of broad interest and application across grantees. Examples of universal TA include webinars, the e-newsletter, and an online collaboration portal designed for grantee-driven cross-state and jurisdiction sharing and exchange. Archived webinars can be found on the MIECHV TACC website here, and anyone interested in receiving the TACC e-newsletter can be added to the list by contacting Lena Cunningham.
Regional forums also are intended to reach multiple grantees and cover topics of general interest, but have the added benefit of peer exchange. These annual two-to three-day on-site forums are planned with input from grantees in the region, the TACC, and the HRSA project officer. As the only TA option from the TACC that offers the opportunity for grantees to meet face-to-face, the regional forums offer an important venue for networking, peer sharing, and the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others.
The TACC also offers TA designed to support multiple grantees, but with a more specific focus, through communities of practice. Currently, the TACC facilitates communities of practice on professional development and centralized intake. Participating members join a monthly Web chat to learn from each other and exchange ideas and successes, and have the option to post and share materials through their respective rooms in the online portal. A community of practice on leadership transitions is newly emerging to support the needs of grantees that have experienced transitions in key personnel within their MIECHV state team.
In addition to communities of practice, recent similar requests from multiple grantees have led to the development of "cohort TA," a natural venue for receiving TA and learning with peers. The primary topic that led to the development of this cohort is fiscal sustainability. Although the requests for TA came in independently from individual grantees, in this method, multiple grantees join on TA calls to receive TA and the benefits of peer exchange.
TA designed to meet the needs of a specific grantee can be delivered in two ways. Targeted TA is delivered remotely, in response to a specific request. TA delivery is accomplished through Web conferencing, phone or e-mail. The topic can be anything related to MIECHV infrastructure development or implementation. Current targeted TA requests vary broadly in focus. If the TACC TA specialists do not have the expertise on a particular topic, consultants are brought in to support grantee growth.
When circumstances and grantee need warrant, the TACC can deliver intensive, on-site TA, although funding for this method of TA is limited. This TA option is requested via HRSA central office or project officer when the need for TA is such that the other methods will not support progress. Intensive TA is sometimes delivered in conjunction with a HRSA site visit to a grantee.
As mentioned in the introduction, the TACC is just one of the entities responsible for delivering TA to MIECHV grantees. Determination of which TA project will respond to a TA request is largely framed by the topic of the TA needed. DOHVE is responsible for TA related to evaluation and research, MIECHV benchmark measurement, data systems, and continuous quality improvement plans. TA related to administration and implementation of the MIECHV grant falls to the TACC.
The topics of TACC TA vary widely, but can be clumped into four general categories: the development of state infrastructure to support MIECHV; system integration to support linkages of MIECHV with existing early childhood and health systems; implementation TA, including capacity building among local implementation sites; and a focus on program participants, such as family engagement.
Within those broad categories, the TACC works with grantees on a number of topics. Sample TA requests from the past year include:
- Fiscal sustainability
- Workforce development, including developing and implementing core competencies
- Developing an infrastructure for statewide continuous quality improvement
- Developing a system for screening and referral
- Ensuring fidelity across models
- Integration of MIECHV with ECCS
- Collective impact
- Implementation science
- Development of statewide home visiting coalitions
- Engagement and retention of culturally diverse populations
- Addressing homelessness within state and local systems
As MIECHV moves forward and grantee efforts emerge beyond the mode of starting up a complex program to a more sophisticated level of implementation, the TA needs of grantees will continue to evolve. The TACC will coordinate with TA partners to meet TA needs effectively and support the implementation of MIECHV across states and jurisdictions. For more information, contact Valeri Lane, MIECHV TACC project director.