The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue $106.7 million this year in grant awards to 46 states to expand home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children up to age five.
Grant awards also apply to the District of Columbia, and five jurisdictions as part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (Home Visiting Program) established by the Affordable Care Act.
“The Home Visiting Program helps to ensure that young families have the option to participate in a program that promotes their children’s healthy growth and development,” says HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell in a news release. “[This] announcement provides continued funding to support local home visiting programs as they work to improve the lives of children and families.”
Earlier this year HHS made up to $730 million available as part of the State Innovation Model initiative to help states design and test improvements to their public and private health care payment and delivery systems.
The Home Visiting Program builds upon research that shows families that choose home visits by a nurse, social worker, or early childhood educator during pregnancy and in the first years of life benefit from support services for children and families.
“Home visit programs have been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect, and promote child health and development,” HHS says.
The program serves as one part of a prenatal to age 5 continuum with the other parts of President Obama’s Early Learning Initiative, which aims to infant and toddler care through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and universal Pre-K initiatives.
“These awards allow states to reach more parents and families in an effort to improve children’s health while at the same time building essential supports within their communities,” says Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., RN, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Written by Cassandra Dowell