Only 3% of Philadelphia children and families who would most benefit receive services
With federal funding set to expire for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program on Sept. 30, the Childhood Begins at Home campaign met with U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District, on Monday to underscore the need for Congress to reauthorize the program.
The program provides nearly $12 million of federal funding awards to Pennsylvania annually. Home visiting programs funded by MIECHV serve populations in communities at risk for poor maternal and child outcomes.
During Monday’s event, home visitors and families discussed the positive outcomes from their experiences with local programs under two models that receive federal MIECHV funding to deliver voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services: Healthy Families America and Nurse-Family Partnership. During visits, nurses and home visitors visit with women, families, and children — some as early as pregnancy to promote positive birth outcomes — to provide parent education and support, ultimately promoting child health, well-being, learning, and development.
“Backed by decades of research, voluntary, evidence-based home visiting is a powerful and proven strategy to support low-income and under-resourced pregnant women and families with young children,” Kari King, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “Unfortunately, we can only reach a fraction of the population with current dedicated funding.”
Across Philadelphia, about 72,000 low-income children would benefit from voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs, but only 3% — or 2,000 children and families who would benefit the most — are being served.
“This is particularly concerning for families in the communities I represent,” said Evans. “We do not want to repeat history. Allowing the program to expire as it did in 2017 could cause disruptions to services just as families are getting the help they need.”
MIECHV supports voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs that are backed by decades of research that show improvements for maternal and child health, develop school readiness, promote economic self-sufficiency, reduce abuse and neglect, and address substance use disorders.
“Maternity Care Coalition is home to Pennsylvania’s largest Healthy Families America Program — an evidence-based home visiting program designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Serving Southeastern Pennsylvania, our program strengthens families by promoting positive parenting and enhancing child health and development. MIECHV reauthorization is crucial to our work and our efforts to ensure Pennsylvania families can remain healthy, growing and thriving,” said CEO Marianne Fray.
“The National Nurse-Led Care Consortium administers two nurse home visiting programs in the Philadelphia region: Nurse-Family Partnership and the Parents as Teachers Home Visiting model. Home visiting is central to our mission to strengthen community health through quality, compassionate, and collaborative nurse-led care. As a nurse, I have seen firsthand how these programs transform families’ lives. MIECHV reauthorization is vital in allowing us to continue this important work,” said Joy Ahn, public health nurse home visitor at the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium, a subsidiary of Public Health Management Corporation.
Childhood Begins at Home calls on Congress to reauthorize MIECHV before the end of September to ensure Pennsylvania families continue receiving vital home visiting services. After nearly a decade of flat funding, the campaign, along with the National Home Visiting Coalition, is seeking an increase for all states for the next five-year renewal period to reach more families in communities at-risk of poor maternal and child outcomes.
Childhood Begins At Home is a statewide campaign launched in 2017 to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting and support public investments in the programs. Learn more at www.childhoodbeginsathome.org.