Dear Groundwork Team:
It’s hard to believe August is over and we’ll enjoy our last break before welcoming fall after the Labor Day weekend. Congress returns from their August recess to a full agenda on Tuesday including many critical decisions that must be made for our nation’s families and communities. One of the developments we are closely following is the reauthorization of the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV is an important program with bipartisan support that provides funding to Ohio to support the implementation of evidence-based home visiting programs.
Families participating in home visiting programs choose to receive regular, planned home visits from trained providers such as nurses, social workers, and educators. Home visitors help assess family needs and available community resources to them, partner with parents to provide necessary tools to ensure the safety and the emotional and physical well-being of their children, and connect families to community programs and resources that enhance stability. Home visiting is a smart, proven investment in our most important asset – our families. Rigorous research shows home visiting:
Reduces child abuse and neglect
Improves the health and well-being of young children
Increases parental self-sufficiency as parents stay in school and/or obtain gainful, stable employment
Improves school readiness and success in young children
Ohio relies heavily on MIECHV funding to provide for its home visiting services which are driving positive outcomes for Ohio kids and families in the above areas. Through grants from the Federal Home Visiting Program, in fiscal year 2015, home visitors in Ohio made 15,512 home visits to 3,515 parents and children in 1,633 families; enrolled 1,452 new parents and children to the program; and served families living in communities in 24 counties across the state, or 27% of Ohio counties, of which 14 counties, or 58%, are rural.
If MIECHV isn’t reauthorized by October 1, more than 140,000 families in 50 states including Ohio could begin to lose effective home visiting services that improve their health, school readiness, economic security and that help states save resources. Without continued funding, families will be left behind and we’ll lose the opportunity to learn from MIECHV to inform future public investments.
Currently, MIECHV is funded at $400 million per year, allowing only a small percentage of eligible families to receive services. It is urgent that Congress reauthorize MIECHV for 5-years with an incremental doubling of funding on a bipartisan package called the “extenders package” or another suitable bipartisan package that can pass Congress on or before September 2017. Double annual funding would sustain the program and expand services to enable grantees, like Ohio, to make services more accessible to underserved populations, since most eligible families now go without access.
Please help us support MIECHV and home visiting programs in Ohio at this time by contacting members of the United States Senate Committee on Finance, including Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to urge them for passage of a bipartisan MIECHV package. We are grateful for your support for Ohio’s most vulnerable children and families.