Home Visiting Advocates Continue to Urge Movement as Clock Ticks

08/03/2017 07:32 pm ET

New legislation introduced to reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program is an important next step in the process of ensuring that this vital program for children and families continues, said home visiting advocates.

The Home Visiting Works Act of 2017 would reauthorize the program, commonly known as MIECHV, for five years with an increase in funding eventually reaching $800 million annually. The legislation would increase from three percent to six percent the funds set aside for the MIECHV Tribal program and would exempt MIECHV from sequestration. The bill was introduced by House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committee Members Danny Davis (D-IL), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and Kathy Castor (D-FL).

“The introduction of this bill is a clear indicator of how important MIECHV is to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. The fact that both Republicans and Democrats agree that MIECHV must be reauthorized for five years is a strong statement of their respective commitments to providing these evidenced-based services to families and children around the country,” said Diedra Henry Spires, CEO of the Dalton Daley Group and co-convener of the Home Visiting Coalition.

Earlier this year, House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE) and four of his colleagues on the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees introduced their own version of a five-year MIECHV reauthorization, the Increasing Opportunity Through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act.

Proven outcomes of evidence-based home visiting include improvements in prenatal care and birth weight; early childhood health and development; school readiness; parenting practices; and economic stability. The increased funding provided in this legislation will ensure that these outcomes are the reality for more families.

“We are grateful to Congress for making MIECHV a priority in this crowded legislative agenda and we look forward to working with members from both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to push this over the finish line before the September 30 expiration date. Currently we can only serve a very small percentage of the families who could benefit from these services,” said Karen Howard, vice president of early childhood policy at First Focus and co-convener of the Home Visiting Coalition.

The 48-member Home Visiting coalition is calling for a five-year reauthorization with incremental funding increases until MIECHV reaches the funding level of $800 million per year.

The Home Visiting Coalition is a diverse group of organizations committed to the well-being of children, working to promote continued federal support of home visiting to strengthen families in communities across the country. Voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs improve the health, development, and education of young children. These programs set the stage for children and families to become self-sufficient and successful.

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