February 7, 2012
To: Members of the Appropriations Committee
From: Carolyn D. Rooker, MSW – Executive Director
Re: Support for LB 1048 – Funding for Early Nurse Home Visitation Programs
The early years of a child’s life are crucial to their later success and no one is more influential in a child’s early years than parents. Home visiting services provide at-risk families with the knowledge and support they need to adequately provide for their children. These services have been thoroughly researched over the past few years and are increasingly recognized nationwide for their positive impact on healthy child development and economic stability for vulnerable families. High quality home visiting programs have also been shown to produce $5.70 in fiscal savings for every taxpayer dollar spent.
Voices for Children in Nebraska supports LB 1048 as a first step towards expanding Nebraska’s commitment to high quality, evidence-based home visiting programs. Nebraska spends $2.5 million less per year than the national average on home visiting services, despite their proven outcomes.We support home visiting as an evidence-based strategy that can help our children by:
- Improving Birth Outcomes. Having access to a home visitor during pregnancy promotes healthy behaviors and reduces the risk that child will be born at low birth weight, the highest predictor of death and disability for infants. The number and percentage of low birth weight babies has increased in Nebraska since 2008. Making home visiting programs available to other mothers who are at-risk contributes to maternal and child health, reducing medical costs and securing a positive start for the children served.
- Preventing Child Maltreatment. In 2010, 5,169 children were victims of abuse or neglect in Nebraska. This number of child victims of abuse and neglect has been rising for the past decade in Nebraska. Home visiting has been shown to improve parents’ interactions wither their children and reduce the incidence of child maltreatment. Abuse and neglect have been linked with physical, social, and emotional challenges which are costly for children and society. Investing in effective prevention programs is essential for Nebraska’s vulnerable children and reforming our child welfare system as a whole.
- Positive Outcomes for Children and Families. Home visiting models have been linked with increasing self-sufficiency for children and families. A longitudinal study of families who had received home visiting services showed that they were better able to meet their child’s needs without government support. There was a substantial increase in employment and a reduction in the use of public benefit programs.
The first years of a child’s life are crucial and to a large extent determine what the rest of their lives will be like. Accessing a nurturing, supportive, healthy environment in the early years allows children to enter school healthy and prepared to succeed. High quality home visiting programs can truly make a difference for vulnerable children and families. As Nebraska seeks to reform its child welfare system and keep more children at home, investments in evidence-based prevention services will be crucial. We urge you to advance this bill and consider both further investments in these services and adding measures of quality and effectiveness in the future. Thank you.
 “The Case for Home Visiting.” The Pew Center on the States: May 2010. http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/initiatives_detail.aspx?initiativeID=52756.
 Calculated by Voices for Children in Nebraska based on numbers found in “State Home Visiting Programs: Nebraska.” The Pew Center on the States and Kids Count in Nebraska 2011 Report.
 Kids Count in Nebraska 2011 Report. Voices for Children in Nebraska.
 Kids Count in Nebraska 2011 Report.
 “The Case for Home Visiting.” Pew Center on the States.