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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

2019

Month Degree Awarded

February

First Advisor

Claire Hamilton

Second Advisor

Sharon Rallis

Third Advisor

David Buchanan

Subject Categories

Early Childhood Education | Maternal and Child Health | Social Work

Abstract

ABSTRACT

YOUNG ADULT EARLY CHILDHOOD HOME VISITORS’ PERCEPTIONS OF FAN (FACILITATING ATTUNED INTERACTIONS) AND ITS POTENTIAL PROTECTION TO BURNOUT

FEBRUARY 2019

LEE MACKINNON, B.A., WILLIAMS COLLEGE

Ed.M., HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST

Directed by: Professor Claire E. Hamilton

This qualitative study investigated the experience of young adult early childhood home visitors in the training and implementation of a family engagement tool, Facilitating Attuned Interactions (FAN) (Gilkerson, 2015). Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, the case study explored how 5 home visitors, who were under 30 years of age, viewed their training and use of FAN in three components of their work: reflection, family engagement, and supervision. In-depth interviews with the home visitors were the primary method of data collection with review of reflection tools and interviews with 3 supervisors serving to contextualize the data. A major finding was that FAN provided a shared language and structure that helped participants feel confident, build reflective capacity, and forge connections to families, supervisors and peers. Participant descriptions of their experience with FAN included elements corresponding to protective factors to burnout including increased confidence, self-calming techniques, bounded relationships with clients, social connection, and reflective supervision. Additional findings included the importance of peer to peer support in the learning and implementation of FAN and the importance of meeting high performance standards that led to home visitor feelings of competence and confidence. Findings indicated that early in their learning process, some home visitors felt incorporating the tool added to job stress. Only after trying FAN with families, participating in scaffolding experiences with supervisors, and completing 10 self-reflection/learning tools over 8 months did they identify the value of FAN language and structure to their work. Training home visitors in this approachmay be especially relevant for young and/or inexperienced staff who rely on the FAN structures and prompts to conduct difficult conversations, maintain professional boundaries, utilize self-calming techniques, and reflect on their own reactions as well as those of their clients. As the field recognizes the need to keep a consistent and competent workforce to provide continuous and effective work with families, training home visitors in FAN is an intervention worthy of consideration. Helping early childhood home visitors to integrate FAN into their practice may be one way to help them be more attuned and reflective, and ultimately more satisfied with their work.

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