MIHOW is flexible and tailored to the needs of the sponsoring agency and community. It is community-based, has a community-development focus, and is strengths-based. The model emphasizes that outreach workers and program participants are equal members of the community and have mutual investment in one another.
MIHOW is based on systems theory, which views human behavior as the collective impact of multiple interrelated systems. To understand and assist individual program participants, MIHOW considers how participants are affected by families, organizations, societies, and other systems in which the participants are involved. Outreach workers assess all the systems at work in individuals’ lives and then strive to strengthen those systems to help participants meet their goals. The outreach worker helps to bolster the individual system, advocates for participants within larger systems, and supports participants’ efforts to positively affect the systems in which they are involved. By training mothers within a community to serve as outreach workers, MIHOW aims to generate broader system change in the community.