The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program’s funding ends on March 31, 2015. Families need this critical support – which is why I’m so pleased that the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently released a joint report, An Investment in Our Future: How Federal Home Visiting Funding Provides Critical Support for Parents and Children, highlighting the importance of this program.
An Investment in Our Future is a treasure trove of fascinating, compelling information about successes and challenges the states have experienced in implementing MIECHV-funded programs for families. The majority of funds from the widely-successful program support evidence-based, rigorously-evaluated home visiting services that have been proven to be effective strategies for improving outcomes for families and for saving public resources over the long term.
Since 2010, MIECHV has supported at-risk families across the country through intensive home visiting services that often begin during pregnancy. Federal funds support local programs that connect families with trained professionals – from nurses to social workers to parent educators – who help parents acquire the skills they need to promote their children’s emotional, social, and physical development.
Home Visiting represents the first invaluable component of a continuum of care, which starts before birth with high-quality home visiting programs and continues with early childhood programs and preschool into a child’s entrance into elementary school. This continuum of care improves education, health and economic outcomes for at-risk children. Decades of research prove that these family support programs work and ultimately save money for taxpayers. When these quality programs are properly implemented, they lead to reduced health care costs, reduced need for remedial education and increased family self-sufficiency. It’s no wonder that voluntary home visiting programs have long-standing support – from Republicans and Democrats alike – in Congress and in states.
This report is a great tool to measure successes and track lessons learned from MIECHV in order to demonstrate the critical role this program plays for at-risk families and inform ways to improve the program in the future. But first – Congress must reauthorize this program before funding ends at the end of March.
A program coordinator in Utah put it best: MIECHV “is changing the way kids are growing up … and building healthy and successful families.”
We can’t let the great infrastructure that grantees have built with MIECHV’s support crumble at the feet of our most at-risk families.