Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new estimate on the maternal mortality rate—showing that the U.S. would rank last among comparably wealthy countries. FFYF Executive Director Sarah Rittling recently spoke with the New York Times about one method that can be used to stem this tide: voluntary home visiting.
“If you have been a first-time parent, you know all too well about what an unbelievable transition it is and how difficult it is. This gives you the tools to empower you as a parent.”Sarah Rittling
FFYF Executive Director
On Wednesday, First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray announced that the city is developing a far-reaching home visiting program for first-time mothers. Mrs. McCrary shared that she has made this issue a priority after experiencing a difficult childbirth and the struggles that come after. New parents in the city will now have the opportunity to receive up to 6 home visits after bringing their newborn home.
There are a number of different models and providers that offer various home visiting services. At the federal level, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program provides federal funds to states for voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services. Families who participate in voluntary home visiting programs receive support from trained professionals such as nurses, social workers, and educators. For families experiencing poverty, language barriers, or geographic isolation, tailored home visiting services can be a valuable resource for supporting parents to be the best advocate for their child’s learning and development in the early years. These programs are proven to increase children’s literacy and high school graduation rates, as well as how much parents read to their children. In addition, home visiting programs increase positive birth outcomes for children, improve the likelihood that families have a primary care physician, and decrease rates of child abuse and neglect.
In addition to the many benefits to local families and communities, home visiting also happens to be a bipartisan success story on Capitol Hill. With overwhelming support from legislators and advocates, the MIECHV program was reauthorized by Congress with increased funding. These funds are designed to give states flexibility in identifying local needs to maximize effectiveness in improving outcomes.
Access to the advice of experts in the comfort of their own home allows parents to work one-on-one with a professional who is uniquely trained to help their family learn and grow in the best possible way.
You can read the full New York Times article on home visiting here.