Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced $386 million in grant awards, including $14.7 million to the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions, Inc., to support the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). These funds will allow states to continue to expand voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children.
“Home visits by a nurse, social worker, or early childhood educator during pregnancy and in the first years of life can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many children and their families,” said Secretary Burwell. “Today’s awards give states the flexibility to tailor their home visiting programs to address the specific needs of the communities they serve.”
The Home Visiting Program currently serves approximately one-third of the counties in the country with high rates of the following indicators: low birth weight, teen birth rate, living in poverty and infant mortality rates. More than 1.4 million home visits have been conducted through the national Home Visiting Program, serving parents and children in 721 counties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories. In 2014, the Home Visiting Program served 115,000 parents and children. Nearly 80 percent of families participating in the program had household incomes at or below the 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
“The Home Visiting Program gives parents who chose to participate, the tools they need to support healthy outcomes for their children,” said Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., RN, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “Evidence-based home visiting services are proven to help improve maternal and child health, prevent child abuse and neglect, and enhance school-readiness.”
Administered by HRSA, in close partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the Home Visiting Program is one part of President Obama’s Early Learning Initiative that focuses on both high-quality infant and toddler care through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and universal Pre-K to improve the essential foundations in early childhood for future healthy development and well-being. Current authority for the Home Visiting Program expires on March 31, 2015. The President’s Budget requests $500 million for fiscal year 2016 and $15 billion over the next 10 years to continue to expand Home Visiting for families.