This week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means hosted a bipartisan briefing for staff on the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Education (MIECHV) program.

MIECHV is a federal-state partnership that supports voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories. MIECHV programs connect families with highly trained community based home visitors who  partner with at-risk families from pregnancy to help lay the foundation for healthy development, school readiness, and economic self-sufficiency. Participation in MIECHV programs are completely voluntary and uniquely tailored to family and community needs.

Five panelist who have worked with MIECHV-supported home visiting programs, either as participants, home visitors, or administrators, spoke to Congressional staff about the success of the program and the growing need for expanded programs. The panelist highlighted the proven scientific effectiveness of MIECHV programs including: 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect, double the screening rates for childhood developmental delays, and five times higher likelihood of parent enrollment in school or employment training.

Home visiting programs have received bipartisan support in states for decades. In 2010, the federal government made the first investment in evidence-based home visiting to help states improve and expand their home visiting programs by establishing MIECHV. Since then, the program has expanded quickly, doubling the number of families served in as many years. In 2015, MIECHV-supported programs strengthened 145,000 parents and children in communities across the country. To continue supporting American families through the critical first five years of life, Congress will need to reauthorize and expand MIECHV before it is set to expire in September 2017.