While the budget debate heats up in Washington, federal funds for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) are set to quietly expire this September if Congress fails to reauthorize the program. Since 2010, MIECHV has helped many families in Nebraska by supporting intensive home visiting programs targeted at high-risk families. Conducted by professionals trained in various areas of child development, these voluntary home visits provide parents with fundamental parenting skills at an early stage.
Evidence-based research shows that home visits have produced significant improvements in the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of a child. Subsequently, these proactive and early measures have led to declines in interactions with social welfare, mental health, and juvenile corrections systems later in a child’s life. Experts estimate that the total impact in reducing child maltreatment, poverty, and crime produces a return of $5.70 for every taxpayer dollar invested in home visit programs.
This past year, MIECHV brought over $1.9 million in federal grants into the state. These funds allowed for the identification of high-risk counties in 8 principal indicators ranging from juvenile crime to physical and behavioral health. The risk assessment confirmed much of what we know about just how complex the story of Nebraska’s children is across the state, with adequate access to social services lacking in many rural communities as people and tax dollars move to more urban regions. Therefore, in addition to offering a forward-looking intervention with great individual and social benefits, home visits are better attuned to the diverse needs of Nebraska families.
By emphasizing the need to support children in vulnerable communities, MIECHV offers a strong foundation for families to build upon throughout a child’s life, including long-term improvements in academic achievement and health outcomes for children, and greater economic and employment stability for parents. Find your U.S. Senator or Representative here to urge them to reauthorize MIECHV funding so that all children across Nebraska have a chance at “The Good Life.”