A Statement from First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Kris Perry:
In overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion this evening, the U.S. Senate passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act by a vote of 92 to 8. This legislation heeds the demands of Republicans and Democrats alike to extend the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program funding through fiscal year 2017, providing $800 million for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
Today’s action will protect funding for local programs that serve thousands of children and families across the U.S. for years to come. And, importantly, this is another in a long series of bipartisan investments that leaders in Congress have made in early childhood programs in recent years.
The MIECHV program is a federal-state partnership with long-standing bipartisan support in Congress and states due to the programs’ success in strengthening families and providing new parents with the critical skills needed to actively support their child’s early development and education. Law enforcement, business leaders, health professionals, educators and dozens of organizations have called for extending this funding—and Congress heard them loud and clear.
Evidence-based, rigorously evaluated home visiting services have proven to be effective strategies for improving outcomes for at-risk parents and children, while saving public resources over the long-term. When these quality programs are properly implemented, they lead to reduced health care costs, reduced need for remedial education and increased family self-sufficiency.
We also know that the earlier we invest, the greater the return. Home visiting services, which often support children before birth, represent the first invaluable component of a continuum of care for children from birth to age five. That continuum of care continues with high-quality child care and concludes with pre-K programs that ensure children enter the K-12 system ready to learn.
Governors across the country – from red and blue states alike – are speaking up in their State of the State addresses, making it clear that they believe early childhood education is a priority investment in their states. But they know they can’t do it alone. Our nation’s leaders would be wise to use this bipartisan momentum as an opportunity to achieve a meaningful and lasting investment in quality early childhood education to support our youngest learners for years to come.
About the First Five Years Fund
The First Five Years Fund helps America achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. FFYF provides knowledge, data, and advocacy – persuading federal policymakers to make investments in the first five years of a child’s life that create greater returns for all. www.ffyf.org