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Home Visits are the Foundation our Program is Built On

May 12, 2015

The EI team continually analyzes the EI program elements and tweaks it each year based on feedback from the community, graduation rates, and drop-out rates. This unusual approach, open-minded and data-driven, rather than hide-bound and based on historical approaches, has led to a multi-pronged program that addresses the many disparate challenges that the children in our communities face.

From the very start of EI, in Costa Rica in 1998, Kathy observed that if the children received regular encouragement, and the family received some advice on how to best help their children in school, the children stayed motivated and did not drop out. This personal encouragement and problem-solving turned out to be the dominant factor in the families’ commitment to education and the children’s success.

Homevisits Anielka and Carla            prog-coord

“Home visits” are one of the most innovative and unique aspects of the EI program. Originally, Kathy made all the home visits herself but as the program grew, we now have 4 trained EI staff who do these full-time.  The frequency of visits depends on the assessed risk of each student, but is 1 to 3 times per month. With the parents, EI reviews the children’s schoolwork and discusses issues that might disrupt their child’s education like problems at school or at home.  This is one of the forums where EI emphasizes the long-term benefits of education. Fostering relationships and trust with families opens the door to a deeper connection and allows EI and the family to create solutions to obstacles that arise which otherwise might lead to a child failing to graduate or dropping out.

Recently, Home Visits were lauded as the key innovation behind a US-based group that was referred to by the Huffington Post as “the most effective anti-poverty program in America.”  Quoting from the above article: “People are most comfortable and most themselves at home. It’s most effective for working with children.” We are delighted that other groups with the same mission of helping children throughout the world have also invented this approach and we certainly agree with them!


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