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Funding Unsure For Program That Helps Arizona Parents/Kids

PHOTO: The Home Visiting Coalition wants to see federal funding for programs that help struggling parents continue. Unless Congress acts, funding will expire in March. Photo credit: Arizona Department of Economic Services.
PHOTO: The Home Visiting Coalition wants to see federal funding for programs that help struggling parents continue. Unless Congress acts, funding will expire in March. Photo credit: Arizona Department of Economic Services.
December 11, 2014

PHOENIX – The clock is ticking on federal funding that helps struggling parents with young children in Arizona and across the nation.

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program expires in March, unless Congress takes action.

Rebecca Ruffner, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, says research has shown that voluntary home visits, usually conducted by nurses or social workers, can prevent serious problems and help with a child's development.

Prevent Child Abuse Arizona is among a coalition of 750 organizations and elected leaders, that sent a letter to Congress asking that the program continue as it has for decades.

"There's research that indicates that babies that are read to in the first year or two of life are far more likely to be able to learn to read, and reading proficiently by the third grade," Ruffner says.

And she adds home visits also help ensure that children's medical appointments are kept, homes are safe as babies begin to explore, and also provide books and other child-development tools.

There's also a payoff. Ruffner points to a RAND Corporation report that found home-visiting programs saved up to around $6 for every dollar invested.

"Where those six dollars come from, for instance, are emergency-room visits because of preventable childhood injuries,” she says. “When babies contract preventable illnesses and have to be hospitalized for long-term."

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevent Child Abuse America and The Salvation Army are among the national organizations that signed the letter.

Funding has been at about $400 million a year.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ