Time Running Out to Save Home Visiting, 750+ Leaders Say
Ed Walz (Former Staff)Early Childhood Health
Washington – The national Home Visiting Coalition today sent a letter with more than 750 signatories to congressional leadership, underscoring the urgent need for action to extend the authorization for the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, expiring in just four weeks. MIECHV supports evidence-based home visiting initiatives that provide the support, experience and knowledge critical to success during pregnancy and through the first few years of a child’s life. The letter includes signatories from every state and four territories, including national, state, local and tribal organizations and elected officials. National signatories represent a wide range of organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Social Workers, National PTA, Prevent Child Abuse America, and the Salvation Army.
“Leaders from across the country are sending a clear message to Congress: time’s up,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, which is a member of the coalition. “Act this month to protect home visiting, or this bipartisan success story comes to an end.”
As the letter highlights, decades of research show that home visiting can prevent and mitigate serious problems facing children and their families. These include poor birth outcomes, child abuse and neglect, and childhood cognitive disabilities. Research also shows that home visiting can improve school readiness and academic achievement.
Research also confirms that home visiting can deliver cost-effective responses to the problems facing children and families. A RAND Corporation report found that two evidence-based home visiting programs saved between $1.80 and $5.70 per dollar invested.
MIECHV has a track-record of bipartisan support. Federal funding for voluntary evidence-based home visiting initiatives was first enacted by President George W. Bush. These efforts were consolidated and expanded in 2010, under MIECHV. Since then, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Georgia governor Nathan Deal, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, and other state leaders have tapped MIECHV funding to support locally-focused home visiting initiatives. MIECHV supports home visiting initiatives in every state, the District of Columbia, all five territories, and with tribal organizations. MIECHV offers states considerable flexibility in the design and focus of their home visiting initiatives, while applying accountability requirements that ensure federal funding is used only for supports that are proven to work.
In addition to the letter’s release, advocates for home visiting are coordinating a number of other activities intended to draw attention to the imminent end of MIECHV’s congressional authorization. These activities include grassroots calls to congressional representatives and a Capitol Hill fly-in bringing Prevent Child Abuse America representatives from every state to Washington for meetings with congressional offices.
“Continued funding for MIECHV should be an easy choice for Congress. Thanks to this proven program, states are successfully leveraging resources to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families on the individual, community and statewide levels,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, a coalition member.
“Put simply, there is no wiser public investment than in the long-term success of our babies and their families. MIECHV provides support to families when it matters most – in their child’s earliest years. Leaving the program’s future in limbo jeopardizes not only the federal and state investments, but the work of MIECHV home visitors in communities around the country to help parents put their children on the path to success in school and in life,” said Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE®, a coalition member.
“Home visiting programs are pro-family, voluntary, and most importantly, they work,” said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass funding for this program, so today representatives from the entire 50-state Prevent Child Abuse chapter network are simply asking them to work together and fund this successful program again.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.
The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs is a national resource, partner and advocate for state public health leaders and others working to improve the health of women, children, youth and families, including those with special health care needs.
Founded in 1977, ZERO TO THREE’s mission is to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. We achieve this by translating research and knowledge-specifically information about the kinds of early experiences that help babies and young children thrive.