USC joins Parents as Teachers to deliver online education

The virtual pilot program could reach more families in underserved communities through School of Social Work

March 31, 2016

Parents as Teachers and the USC School of Social Work have launched a pilot program pairing the evidence-based home visiting model with USC Telehealth.

The pilot represents a move by Parents as Teachers to adapt its home visiting services to a virtual format, allowing it to reach more families in underserved communities and support tech-savvy parents. It was funded through the Coalition for Research on Engagement and Well-Being and the Overdeck Family Foundation.

Families in the study will receive Parents as Teachers service components via live, Web-based video conference sessions. Individualized, live personalized visits will take place online, along with child health and development screenings, community support referrals and group gatherings with other parents.

“This project is a prime example of how preventive health services can be taken into a home setting through telehealth technology,” said Dorian Traube, USC associate professor and lead investigator. “Our hope is that by using the latest in secure, user-friendly technology, more families will have access to critical early intervention services. At the same time, we are opening the doors to communicate with a new generation of families who are surrounded and immersed in technology on a regular basis.”

Committing to action

The project was recognized as a Commitment to Action by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2015. USC School of Social Work graduate fellows are receiving training in the Parents as Teachers service model and will serve a total of 65 families in the pilot study. Participating parents, recruited from the LA Best Babies Network, are provided tablets and wireless Internet access for the duration of the study, which will enable them to connect with their parent educators.

“The Parents as Teachers @ USC Telehealth program is fundamentally expanding the ways parent education and family support services are provided, from in-home visiting to a live online platform,” said Scott Hippert, president and CEO of Parents as Teachers. “We intend to demonstrate that the model can be delivered effectively and with fidelity in a virtual environment.”

Researchers will begin gathering qualitative analyses this summer, with comprehensive results expected next summer.