Urgent Need to Extend MIECHV Funding: New Report Highlights Potential Impact

Mar 10, 2014

By Stephanie Schmit and Hannah Matthews

CLASP, together with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), released a report today that highlights the effectiveness of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV is a federal and state partnership that supports evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs in every state and will expire September 30, 2014 unless Congress takes steps to extend it — threatening a host of programs that have proven effective for strengthening high-risk families and saving money over the long run. The paper makes clear the negative impact of not extending the program and includes examples of states’ use of MIECHV funds.

MIECHV was originally authorized and funded in 2010 for five years at a total of $1.5 billion, with $400 million for fiscal year 2014. In the next few weeks, Members of Congress have an immediate opportunity to extend MIECHV as part of a larger legislative package before the Senate Finance Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee. Without action, many of the program’s key features will be jeopardized including its targeted services to high-risk families; its evidence-based practices that include state innovation and flexibility; and state accountability, coordination, and collaboration.  

Home visiting has a strong evidence base, backed by rigorous research that supports the effectiveness of several models at promoting children’s health and development and strong parenting skills while leading to fewer children in the social welfare, mental health, and juvenile corrections systems, with considerable cost savings for states.  Research shows home visiting can be an effective method of delivering family support and child development services.  The programs’ outcomes vary depending upon the model used, but similar, positive outcomes have been found across many home visiting models. Home visiting programs can also improve child health and development, increase children’s school readiness, enhance parents’ abilities to support their children’s development, and have the potential to improve family economic self-sufficiency. 

The potential costs of not extending MIECHV are high:

  • Fewer families in at-risk communities would be served. 
  • States may have to end their efforts to build statewide infrastructure and promote better coordination across programs.
  • The opportunity to expand the use of evidence-based program models would be lost.
  • A significant opportunity to further build the evidence base for effective home visiting programs would also be lost. 

Congress must take action now to extend funding for MIECHV, which makes a difference for some of the most vulnerable families and communities in the country.  Extended funding will ultimately save taxpayers money through decreased health care, remedial education, and other public costs, and increase family self-sufficiency. Investing in a program that works and makes a difference in the lives of so many children and families can help ensure that they have the support they need to face the negative effects of their current situations and grow and thrive.

Join us and our fellow home visiting coalition members in a day of action on Wednesday March 12 to let Congress know the importance of MIECHV for children and families. On the Day of Action, please call your members of Congress and post your support for MIECHV on social media. Also join us for a twitter storm from 2pm-3pm ET using #homevisiting.

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