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Home Visiting Program Proven Effective Could Lose Funding This Week

There are two bills in Congress addressing funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. (Misha Popovikj/Flickr)
There are two bills in Congress addressing funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. (Misha Popovikj/Flickr)
September 27, 2017

BOISE, Idaho - Advocates for children are concerned that a federal home visiting program could end if Congress doesn't act this week.

Funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, referred to as MIECHV, is set to expire Saturday. Without an extension, Idaho could lose the $3 million potentially allotted to it, according to the Chronicle of Social Change.

Christine Tiddens, community outreach director for Idaho Voices for Children, said the program is one of the biggest-kept secrets in the state.

"Within our state, we have decades of research that really shows that home visiting really helps build up family financial security," she said. "It increases positive parenting practices, it helps prepare kids to enter school and, most importantly, it has been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect."

Nationwide, Tiddens said, studies have shown home visiting programs reduce neglect and abuse by 48 percent for those families who participate in it. Programs also made 85 percent of kindergartners ready for school, according to ratings from teachers. Idaho contracts with two home visiting organizations: Parents as Teachers and the Nurse-Family Partnership.

Bills in the House and Senate address MIECHV funding but contain key differences, Tiddens said, "including a stipulation that states have to invest their own state money in order to draw down those federal dollars, and the Senate bill doesn't include this distinction."

Supporters of the House bill say states are more invested in programs when they contribute their own dollars. Over the last two years, Idaho has not invested in the program and advocates are worried funding would dry up under the House version.

Tiddens said she's heard personal testimony on the importance of MIECHV. She quoted a woman named Hilary on her experience, who said she was able to break out of a cycle of drug abuse and a dysfunctional marriage because of the program.

" 'It was because of the home visitor asking me what future do you want for your boys and for you, and have you ever thought about going to college, that I really started thinking outside the box that I grew up in and I enrolled at Boise State University,'" she said.

The text of HR 2824 is online at congress.gov.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID