MIECHV: The Importance of Diversity and Flexibility

Apr 17, 2014

By Stephanie Schmit

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) is a federal and state partnership that supports family- and child-related home visiting programs in every state. MIECHV prioritizes use of home visiting models with demonstrated effectiveness while providing states important flexibility to tailor their approach to their local communities’ needs.

A rigorous review of research has identified to date 14 home visiting models that meet the evidence-based criteria. These results are highlighted in a new Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) brief. The home visiting models target different populations and support a variety of interventions.  Recognizing the diversity of needs among high-risk families, 41 states have implemented more than one evidence-based model.

This week, CLASP submitted testimony for the record to the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources about the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.  Our testimony stressed the importance of maintaining choice among many evidence-based models and maintaining states’ flexibility to spend a quarter of the funds on promising approaches. Both of these provisions ensure that home visiting programs are able to meet the diverse needs of low-income, vulnerable families. 

All evidence-based models provide voluntary, home-based services to families with young children, but they differ with respect to whom they reach and what services they provide. Most models target parents or children with particular risk factors, including low-income parents, first-time mothers, teen parents, and children exhibiting developmental concerns. Some models allow mothers to enroll prenatally, while others provide services post-birth based on the child’s age.  Models may provide services for one year or may continue based on need or until a child reaches a certain age.  The goals of each model vary and include improving child and/or parental health, addressing school readiness, fostering healthy child development, and improving family self-sufficiency.  The activities that occur during visits vary by model and are informed by the model’s goals.  Examples of home-visiting activities include: parent education, referrals to community resources, activities to support and encourage parent-child interaction, and screenings for parents and children to identify additional potential risk.  The frequency of visits with families varies by model but is often weekly or every other week.

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