Texas Strengthens Home Visiting Investments
On June 14, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the Home Visiting Expansion and Accountability Act. The act, which passed unanimously in the Senate and with an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House, ensures the state's investments in home visiting are going to programs with a proven record of effectiveness and requires those programs track and measure outcomes such as improvements in maternal and infant health, family self–sufficiency, and school readiness.
In addition to passing this important policy, the state increased funding for home visiting by $7.9 million. Legislators also created an innovative new strategy that is projected to raise another $2 million in home visiting funding by establishing the Texas Home Visiting Program Trust Fund. Through the trust fund, Texans are invited to make voluntary contributions to fund home visiting programs when they apply for birth, marriage, or divorce certificates.
Texas' reforms are based on a policy framework developed by Pew's home visiting campaign. Pew's nationwide survey of home visiting programs found that most states lacked policies that link funding to program effectiveness and that few adequately monitored family outcomes.
The Home Visiting and Expansion Accountability Act had support from Texas' early childhood advocates, the Texas Home Visiting Consortium, and the medical, law enforcement, judicial, and business communities. Crucial legislative leadership came from a bipartisan group of champions including the bill's original author, Senator Jane Nelson, as well Senators Royce West, Bob Deuell, and Representative John Zerwas.