In 2020, First 5 San Bernardino began the process of developing an integrated, home visiting system (HVS) framework specific to San Bernardino County when the organization received a two-year coordination grant from First 5 California (F5CA).  Now a year and a half into the work, the strategy is taking shape as the organization looks forward to implementing a program designed to have a positive impact on the families served throughout the County via a strong collaborative network.

“We know that both services and the mode of service delivery are changing to meet families’ needs to feel connected and supported,” explained Scott McGrath, deputy director, systems and impact.  “First 5 San Bernardino is striving to maximize available funding and collaborate with county partners to serve families through a well-coordinated and efficient HVS in San Bernardino County,” McGrath said.

First 5 San Bernardino has previous experience with home visiting through a similar strategy with funded partner El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center in San Bernardino, an organization well known for its use of community health workers in the Inland Empire. “Based on the success of that initiative, which focuses on child abuse prevention, we had been looking to deploy the tactic on a broader scale.  The timing of this grant was certainly ideal,” McGrath stated.

The organization got right to work solicitating and onboarding a consulting agency with expertise in home visiting.  The first task was conducting an environmental scan of San Bernardino County’s communities with concentrations of risk, and then determining if there were any systems in place already supporting family and child well-being.  The environmental scan included data about families, existing and potential collaborators, partners and community assets relevant for children and families.

“While every family with a young child may benefit from community and social support, for those with fewest assets, home visiting is a critical service to help families access supports and resources to help their child thrive,” said Karen Scott, executive director, First 5 San Bernardino.  “Our commission is committed to creating a sustainable, unified system that supports families with the home visiting services they need and maximize available funding to serve more families,” Scott concluded. 

With the environmental scan now complete, the focus shifts to infrastructure building as well as identifying a backbone organization to oversee the system of care.  A strategic plan will be developed to provide the framework to guide implementation of core components and strategies within the system

The grant-supported work will conclude this summer once a Home Visiting System – San Bernardino (HVS-SB) leadership team is solidified and workgroup membership identified.

Our goal is to ensure that the home visiting system is coordinated and aligned, sustainable and equipped to meet the needs of families, explained McGrath.  “If the system is strong, it will lead to outcomes such as families having access to effective and culturally competent home visiting services.  Research shows that families demonstrate improved outcomes when they are linked to appropriate services when need is identified.  All of which contributes ultimately to fostering a child’s healthy development, and that’s a very good thing,” McGrath concluded.