Home Visiting Reauthorization Process Begins in House

The House Ways and Means Committee has begun the process of potentially reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV), which funds efforts to pair new or expecting parents with professionals.

Its Subcommittee on Human Resources, chaired by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), will hold a hearing on reauthorization on Wednesday, March 15, at 10 am.

No witnesses have been listed yet for this, but the hearing announcement leads us to guess we’ll see a state administrator, a researcher familiar with home visiting, and perhaps an exec for one of the leading models of service allowed under MIECHV. From the announcement:

This hearing will examine a range of home visiting models, review how states operate and fund programs, and highlight how an evidence-based home visiting program can produce positive outcomes for children and families.

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.

Amidst a sea of worry about what the next few years will bring for federal investment in youth and family services, there seems to be confidence that MIECHV will move with bipartisan support, and perhaps see an increase in appropriations. From Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady in a January op-ed in The Hill:

We will advance evidence-based reforms to fund more programs that actually work, such as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, which has delivered positive results for families by empowering parents to achieve better outcomes for themselves and their children.

MIECHV grantees are allowed to choose from 17 different models of home visitation, all of which have met federal criteria for effectiveness. The most well known of the models is Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), which pairs registered nurses with first time moms during and after pregnancy.

In a report published last year by the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, the commission said that the NFP model was the only program it identified that had demonstrably prevented maltreatment deaths.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1204 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jkelly@chronicleofsocialchange.org.