Congress Should Extend, Continue Funding Home Visiting Program
By Stephanie Schmit and Ruth Cosse
The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program provides home visiting services to high-risk families. This fosters economic self-sufficiency, healthy development, and strong educational outcomes for vulnerable parents and children. However, without action from Congress, this crucial investment in families will expire in September.
MIECHV funds programs that connect pregnant women, as well as parents with young children, to trained professionals—such as nurses, social workers, or parent educators—who help them develop the skills needed to promote their children’s development.
Currently, MIECHV is funded at $400 million per year, allowing only a small percentage of eligible families to receive services. In order to maintain the current program and reach more vulnerable families, Congress should extend MIECHV before it expires in September and double annual funding to address the following:
- Sustainability. MIECHV is set to expire for the third time since its inception. This pattern has created uncertainty around funding sustainability. Consequently, grantees struggle to plan for the continued development of their home visiting systems and infrastructure. Congress should extend MIECHV for five years to provide stability to grantees.
- Expansion of services. An additional investment of $400 million per year would enable grantees to make services more accessible to underserved populations. Currently, most families who could benefit from home visiting services go without access. In FY2015, just 145,500 parents and children were served through the program.
- Proven effectiveness. MIECHV provides home visiting services that are proven to be effective through rigorous evaluation. Without continued funding, families will be left behind and we’ll lose the opportunity to learn from MIECHV to inform future public investments.
Recently, Republicans in the House Ways and Means Committee introduced legislation to reauthorize MIECHV. While the legislation maintains current funding and extends the program for five years, it would harm children and families by making concerning changes to the structure of the program and its provisions. This reauthorization proposal should be reconsidered. Instead, Congress should work in a bipartisan manner to continue our country’s investment in evidence-based home visiting that promotes positive outcomes for children, families, and the country. By increasing funding and extending MIECHV for five years, we can reach more children, enable programs to expand and improve services, and help states build infrastructure.
For more on extending MIECHV funding, read MIECHV as a Cost-effective, Proven Strategy to Improve the Lives of Vulnerable Children and Families. This report was authored by CLASP on behalf of the Home Visiting Coalition.