The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just announced awards for another round of home visiting grants. Ten states received a total of almost $72 million in funding for early childhood supports through voluntary home visits to families in need. States are either establishing or expanding their home visiting programs.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act authorized this grant funding through a provision creating the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). It is intended to support evidence-based home visiting programs that prevent maltreatment and provide parent education and support, health screenings and other service linkages for children and families, school preparation, and breakdown isolation and engage families in community life. Mandatory funding for the programming was set at $1.5 billion over 5 years, with $350 million provided in the current FY2012.
The MIECHV program is run jointly by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and both agency leaders commented on the announcement. “These investments will give states a significant boost in their efforts to keep children safe and healthy,” said HRSA’s Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. “Helping children and families succeed involves many approaches and voluntary home visits play a key role in strengthening families and putting children on solid footing,” said George Sheldon, the ACF acting assistant secretary. In addition, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “Home visits from an experienced counselor can help provide skills and links to important services and early childhood education.”