HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the award of $88 million in grants, provided under the Affordable Care Act, to support evidence-based home visiting programs focused on improving the wellbeing of families with young children. Through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, nurses, social workers, or other professionals meet with at-risk families in their homes, evaluate the families’ circumstances, and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child’s health, development, and ability to learn - such as health care, developmental services for children, early education, parenting skills, child abuse prevention, and nutrition education or assistance.
There is strong research evidence that these programs can improve outcomes for children and families and also yield Medicaid savings by reducing preterm births and the need for emergency room visits. Based on these findings, the Affordable Care Act provides a total of $1.5 billion for these initiatives over the next five years.
Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and five territories applied for and were awarded funding under this program, demonstrating the broad support that exists for these efforts. States and jurisdictions are conducting statewide assessments to identify existing home visiting programs and areas of high need. These assessments will then inform how they use these funds to assure effective coordination and implementation of evidence-based high-quality home visiting programs that are designed to improve maternal and child health, foster healthy child development, and prevent child maltreatment.
“This initiative will give children a healthier start and give parents the help they need to succeed in the most important job in the world – parenting,” said Secretary Sebelius. “This effort builds on impressive research findings and is one more piece of our strategy to invest in prevention and early interventions that pay off.”
“These investments will help States to create and support evidence-based home visiting programs that improve the wellbeing of children and families,” said Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. “States will be using these grants to design programs that best serve their residents, providing important help to at-risk families, while gathering more detailed information on which approaches work best to put young children on the path to a healthy life at an early age.”
David A. Hansell, acting assistant secretary for children and families, said, “Evidence-based home visiting programs have the potential to provide great benefits for at-risk families in every State.”
Successful home visiting programs are multi-faceted, providing services in the health, child protection, early education, and social services arenas based on a holistic assessment of what families may or may not need. That is why HRSA and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) are collaborating on this initiative at the Federal level, ensuring that expertise in each of these areas is engaged in the home visiting effort. “We look forward to continuing to work with states and our Federal partners to help families provide children with the healthy environment they need to thrive” said ACF Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development, Dr. Joan Lombardi.
Each state’s governor designated the state entity to apply for and administer Home Visiting program funds on behalf of the state. The state’s portion of these funds is allocated by formula based on the number of young children in families at or below 100% of the Federal poverty level in the state as compared to the number of such children nationally. Of the Federal funds provided to the states and jurisdictions, $500,000 is immediately available to support their needs and resource assessments and to begin planning their programs. The remainder of the grant funds will be released for use after the state or jurisdiction completes its needs assessment and, based on that needs assessment, submits an approvable plan for addressing the home visiting needs they have identified.
HRSA , a division of HHS is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit www.hrsa.gov.
ACF, within HHS, is responsible for Federal programs that promote the economic and social wellbeing of families, children, individuals, and communities. For more information about ACF and its programs, visit www.acf.hhs.gov.
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