Report to Congress Highlights MIECHV’s Early Success, Challenges

A new report to Congress presents the first findings from the national evaluation of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. It includes an analysis of the states’ needs assessments, as well as baseline characteristics of families, staff, local programs, and models participating in the study. The national evaluation is designed to increase understanding of how to effectively and efficiently deliver services to low-income families.

Key Findings include:

  • States used initial Home Visiting Program funds primarily to expand evidence-based home visiting models in at-risk communities.
  • As intended, states targeted counties with high rates of poverty, child maltreatment, and premature birth, among other indicators of risk.
  • Although most states were already implementing home visiting programs, MIECHV increased the use of evidence-based models to deliver care to high-risk families.
  • As intended, Home Visiting Program-funded programs serve a group of mothers facing many risks for themselves and their children (high rates of depressive symptoms, activity-limiting health problems, public assistance receipt, low educational attainment).
  • Home visiting models prioritize and address goals and outcomes delineated in MIECHV legislation differently. Despite this fact, local programs indicated MIECHV encouraged them to make a higher priority of outcomes included in federal legislation.
  • Across outcomes, highest priority was given to activities around child health and development and positive parenting. Less emphasis was placed on activities related to maternal health and well-being (birth spacing, maternal physical and mental health and tobacco use).

The report present information on needs assessments and services from all states implementing MIECHV. Detailed implementation experience is based on 88 MIECHV-funded local home visiting programs in 12 states. Florida is not one of the states in the study. Four evidence-based models most frequently implemented by states—Early Head Start-Home-based Options, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers—are included in the national evaluation. Outcomes and experiences of more than 4,000 families random assigned to a MIECHV-funded program or control group receiving other community services will be examined in the multi-year study.

MDRC and subcontractors James Bell Associates, Johns Hopkins University, Mathematica Policy Research, the University of Georgia and Columbia University are conducting the Maternal and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE) for HRSA.