On Sept. 22, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $224 million in formula and development grants for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program for 2011, which states will use to support and build their home visiting programs for low-income families.
Home visiting programs send nurses and other professionals to the homes of pregnant women and mothers – especially first-time parents – to discuss parenting skills, child health and wellbeing and steps parents can take in order to raise healthy kids. Federal formula support for home visiting was passed as part of last year's health reform act.
Every state except North Dakota will receive between $1 million and $12 million for its home visiting programs. Seventy-five percent of the funding must go toward implementing an evidence-based home visiting program, while 25 percent can go toward new home visiting approaches. The applications for competative funding are not currently available online, so we can't say for now what sort of programs states will be investing in with the new funds.
HHS awarded an additional $100 million in competitive funding to 22 promising states and/or agencies that wish to either develop or expand robust home visiting programs. HHS hopes this money will help develop model states that others can look to when building and scaling up home visiting. States with the largest development grants include Arkansas, California, Indiana and Oklahoma, each of which received over $9 million in competitive expansion funding. A list of the grantees is available on the Health and Human Services website.
We've discussed home visiting programs on Early Ed Watch before, and how research that has shown evidence of successful home visiting programs reducing child maltreatment and increasing child health and safety. We'll be watching to see if this attempt at scaling up home visiting in the states creates meaningful gains for young children.