The federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) initiative contributed to a significant expansion in the funding and availability of voluntary, evidence-based services for expectant and new families, impacting the health and well-being of some of the nation’s most vulnerable families.
According to a new report to Congress, MIECHV-funded programs provided nearly 750,000 home visits to 115,545 participants in 2014. The program served one-quarter of U.S. counties and approximately one-third of at-risk communities (274 counties).
MIECHV-funded home visiting sites successfully reached high-need families. Nearly 80 percent had incomes below the federal poverty level. Most parents served by the program were young (55% under 25 years old, single (69%), unemployed (66%) with low educational attainment (69% high school diploma or less). The report notes home visiting help these families who frequently lack resources and social support, build a foundation for their future success by encouraging positive parenting practices while addressing individual family needs such as depression and substance abuse.
The report, compiled by HRSA and ACF, documents improvements by most states in the six MIECHV benchmark areas: maternal and child health (81% of states), prevention of abuse and neglect (66%), school readiness (85%), reduction in crime or domestic violence (70%), family economic self-sufficiency (85%), and coordination of community resources and supports (85%).
In addition to impacting individual families, MIECHV also contributed to community development and systems building by supporting professional development, coordinated intake and referral, continuous quality improvement efforts, and coordinated data systems.
The federal home visiting program currently provides grants to 47 states, the District of Columbia, five territories and three nonprofit organizations, including the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions which administers MIECHV for the state of Florida.