A few weeks after the expiration of a growing federal program that invests in home visitation programs, Congress last night approved a two-year extension that keeps it going through fiscal 2017.
The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) will receive $400 million per year in fiscals 2016 and 2017, the same annual appropriation it received for the past two years.
“Congress is making an important investment to transform communities by investing in what we know works to change outcomes for children born into poverty,” said Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) National Office CEO Roxane White, whose organization oversees one of 17 federally approved models of home visitation.
MIECHV was created in 2009 as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It funds state-level programs aimed at preventing maltreatment by connecting expecting parents, and parents of very young children, with the assistance of trained professionals who come to them.
The Affordable Care Act invested $1.5 billion over five fiscal years (2010 to 2014) into home visitation, a drastic increase from the $13.9 million appropriated for home visitation in 2009.
MIECHV was originally extended into fiscal 2015, and scheduled to end in September. When that deadline blew by, Congress approved an extension of MIECHV funding through March of 2015.
In an interview with The Chronicle of Social Change last week, White said that at least half of NFP providers in the country would have ceased operation of the program if MIECHV had lost funding.
MIECHV funds represent about 25 percent of the annual money spent on NFP operation, White said. “But those funds are huge for leveraging other resources. Hospitals will host us, it has drawn in additional dollars at the state level. The leveraging is pretty unbelievable.”
MIECHV supported home visitation for 115,000 families in 787 U.S. counties last fiscal year, according to a recently released report by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Its reauthorization was included in an unrelated “doc fix” bill that alters the way doctors are paid through Medicare.
John Kelly is an editor for The Chronicle of Social Change.