This week The Pew Center on the States released a 50-state report on funding for voluntary home visiting programs. States and the New Federal Home Visiting Program: An Assessment from the Starting Line examines the scope and capacity of states to support evidence-based program models. The report also tracked the extent to which public expenditures are yielding expected outcomes for families and taxpayers. Finally, the report provides recommendations for policymakers investing in prevention programs that help strengthen families.
The report included five key findings:
- Most home visiting funding was not adequately tracked at the state level.
- States frequently provided funding with few, if any, requirements that programs invest in models with a proven record of success.
- States did not adequately monitor publicly funded programs to ensure effectiveness.
- States did not consistently target at-risk families, where the return on investment is highest.
- In every state, far too few at-risk families got home visiting services.
In finding that states spent approximately $1.4 billion on home visiting services without much consistency with respect to oversight, accountability, and coordination across the states, Pew offered five recommendations for policymakers to insure that newly designated federal resources yield the highest returns on their investments. They include:
- Require the tracking of all home visiting funds.
- Insist on—and invest in—programs with a foundation in research.
- Support and require programs to monitor performance and evaluate key outcomes.
- Set clear, evidence-based eligibility guidelines and develop systems to ensure compliance.
- Use the best available data about families to determine appropriate home visiting allocations and to establish a realistic plan for expansion.