On March 27, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a six-month extension for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. This federal-state partnership is a proven strategy for strengthening families and saving money.
The critical family support program has a long history of bipartisan backing at the state and federal levels. The extension of funding through March 31, 2015, if given final approval by the Senate, will mean vital support and coaching for vulnerable families. This is a research-proven program with a significant return on investment in the form of lower medical and remedial education costs and improved self-sufficiency for families.
Children don’t arrive with instruction manuals, so this voluntary program matches motivated new parents with trained providers from their communities, such as nurses or parent educators, to help the parents learn the skills to be successful. Most participating parents lack the extended family support, experience, and knowledge of basic parenting skills that are critical to success during pregnancy and through the first few years of a child’s life.
The MIECHV program is also designed with a high degree of accountability. States are tracking and measuring effectiveness to make sure that it is working as intended. The legislation requires that the majority of the programs be evidence-based, with a track record of effectiveness demonstrated through rigorous scientific study.
Crucial legislative leadership came from a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House, including Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Chairman Joe Pitts (PA), Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (MI), Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (MI), and Speaker John Boehner (OH), as well as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), who voiced support today for the bill that included the MIECHV extension.