Arkansas Passes Legislation to Strengthen Home Visiting
On March 28, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed into law a measure that sets up one of the strongest home visiting systems in the country by ensuring investments are directed to programs that are proven to achieve successful results for children and families. The act, which was approved unanimously in both the senate and the house, also requires that home visiting programs track and measure outcomes such as improvements in maternal and infant health, family self-sufficiency and school readiness.
The law requires that at least 90 percent of Arkansas’ funding for home visiting go to support evidence-based or promising programs, ensuring the state will receive solid returns on investment for taxpayers and strong results for participating families. The policy also sets forth a clear process for measuring outcomes across all state-funded home visiting programs, which includes collaboration and data sharing between the departments that oversee home visiting services: the State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, the Department of Health, and the Department of Human Services.
Arkansas’ reforms are based on a policy framework developed by the Pew home visiting campaign. The law has support from a broad coalition including policy makers, state agency staff, advocates, home visiting providers, and leaders in the health care community. Crucial legislative leadership came from Senator Ronald Caldwell, and Representatives David Meeks and Warwick Sabin.