Advancing Connectivity for Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evaluation of Iowa’s Phones for Families Program.
Rouse, Heather. Bruning, Jessica. Bahe, Darien. Wallace, Laura. Dorius, Cass. Roosa, Kristy. Plagge, Anne.
Published: May 2021
This report discusses the findings of an evaluation that assessed the utility and impact of the Phones for Families program implemented by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The program sought to address social isolation and continue provision of services virtually by providing loaner smartphones to families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients were asked about their usage of the phone, its impact on their receipt of family support services, and their feedback on virtual home visits. Family support providers were asked how the phones have helped their clients, their job satisfaction with virtual visits, and how provision of services was impacted throughout the pandemic. Findings are reported from surveys of 33 families who had an active phone number through the Phones for Families program and 30 providers who had at least 1 family participating in the Phones for Families program. Families were overwhelmingly positive regarding the Phones for Families program with 78% of respondents saying they were “very satisfied” and none saying they were at all dissatisfied. Over 80% of families and providers responded that they would prefer a combination of virtual and in-person visits going forward, though slightly more families would prefer all in-person compared to providers (11% vs. 10%). Providers noted somewhat less job satisfaction overall since the pandemic began (mean of -0.59 on a -5 to 5 scale), though 28% indicated higher job satisfaction and 70% responded that the quality of their home visits had increased with the addition of virtual options. Finally, providers reported about the same or more visit cancellations overall with 30% saying they had fewer cancellations. Open text responses indicated mixed responses on cancellations though a few noted it was easier to reschedule when necessary. 4 references.
COVID-19; Iowa; State disaster response; Social isolation; Service delivery; Remote service delivery; Program evaluations