Home-Visiting Backers Battle Federal Funding Deadline
Advocates for home-visiting programs, staring down a Sept. 30 deadline when federal funding for their program expires, are trying to make sure Congress doesn't forget about them.
The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, or MIECHV, supports paying for trained counselors or medical professionals to visit the homes of at-risk families. The counselors establish a long-term relationship with parents. They teach parenting skills, conduct developmental screening for children, provide social support and connect families with other community resources that may be needed.
Home visiting has support that crosses partisan lines. The American Enterprise Institute has written that children in home-visiting programs have better outcomes than those who receive interventions later in life. The Urban Institute and James Bell Associates, a research services and evaluation firm, have recently launched a National Home Visiting Resource Center that is a clearinghouse of programs offered in all the states.
Rallying for More Funding for MIECHV
Home visiting first received $1.5 billion as a part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and when that funding expired in 2015, the program received an additional $800 million over two years as a rider to the Medicare doctor-payment bill.
That spending, however, is coming to an end. Advocates are asking Congress for five years of annual funding, starting at $400 million and ending at $800 million.
The advocacy effort launched on July 12 with a "Day of Action." Supporters took to Twitter and other social media to extol the benefits of home visiting. On July 18, the Council for a Strong America and Parents as Teachers, which created one of several research-supported home visiting models, are teaming up for a briefing on Capitol Hill.
Among the powerful supporters of home visiting is Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee. Liz Cox, the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, said that home visiting helps families in both rural and urban parts of the state. Long-term funding will allow programs to commit to more families, she said.
"If we really want to see prevention being prioritized," Cox said, "we've got to fund it like we mean it."
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