Home Visiting Campaign Begins Ahead of Congressional Hearing

As mentioned here last week, tomorrow the House Ways and Means Committee will begin the process of possibly reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). The program, which was enacted under the Affordable Care Act, funds efforts to pair new or expecting parents with professionals.

Today, the Home Visiting Coalition, a group of 48 early childhood and home visiting advocates and service providers,   launched a public campaign in advance of the hearing to push for a doubling of MIECHV.

The coalition “is calling for a five-year reauthorization with incremental funding increases until MIECHV reaches the funding level of $800 million per year,” according to the campaign’s official announcement.

“Regular visits by caring, experienced professionals and trained peers can help parents turn their good intentions into good, solid parenting and coping skills,” said First Focus Vice President Karen Howard, co-convener of the Home Visiting Coalition, in the announcement. “We are excited to use this crucial moment to show how home visiting in general and MIECHV in particular are proven investments in the future of our children and families.”

The campaign largely centers around a website designed to share state-by-state information on MIECHV, and to solicit and share stories about how home visiting programs have helped parents.

The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, chaired by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), will hold a hearing on reauthorization on Wednesday, March 15, at 10 a.m. Slated to testify at the hearing:

  • Beth Russell, nurse home visitor for Penn Medicine Lancaster General in Pennsylvania
  • Rosa Valentin, a client of Penn Medicine Lancaster General
  • Eric Bellamy, home visiting mnager for the Children’s Trust of South Carolina
  • Diana Rauner, president of The Ounce of Prevention Fund and First Lady of Illinois

Click here to view a webcast of the hearing.

MIECHV was created under the Affordable Care Act, which set it for five years of funding escalating up to $400 million. After the initial authorization expired in 2014, MIECHV has twice been saved at the bell by $400 million annual extensions. An initial extension was made under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act in 2015; another extension through fiscal 2017 came as part of the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is senior editor for The Chronicle of Social Change.

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