On April 20 and 21, Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) Iowa held its annual conference, “Building Healthy Families,” with a keynote address by Karen Kavanaugh, Pew’s home visiting campaign director, and video remarks from Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin about the importance of early-childhood family support and coaching, or home visiting, programs in Iowa and across the U.S.
Sens. Grassley and Harkin have been strong supporters of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, or MIECHV, program. This federal-state partnership is a proven strategy for strengthening families and saving money.
On March 31, the U.S. Senate approved a six-month extension of the MIECHV program, after Sen. Grassley and Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) co-authored a bipartisan letter of support to the Senate Finance Committee. This funding extension will mean continued support and coaching for vulnerable families in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“Many new parents are motivated to provide the best environment for their kids but might not have the skills and background to do so. That’s where the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program comes in,” Sen. Grassley said in his comments at the conference.
Iowa policymakers have also served as national leaders and proponents for family support and coaching. In an op-ed she co-authored, Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds said: “Voluntary home visiting helps at-risk children be better prepared for school. These programs also show concrete data for their return on investment. To keep our costs low, we must put our scarce state resources toward programs that prove their effectiveness.”
Iowa increased the accountability of its home visiting investments in May 2012 by passing a law that requires at least 90 percent of family support funds be spent on programs with proven outcomes. The law also clarified the goals of Iowa’s family support programs and required the administering agencies to report on the outcomes achieved by children and families with the investment. The law is based on a policy framework developed by Pew’s home visiting campaign.