WA Lawmakers Spare Home Visiting Programs
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Olympia, WA - While most state services face big budget cuts by the legislature, a few have been spared, more or less. They include home visiting programs, in which nurses and other trained professionals go to the homes of at-risk families who have asked for help. They work with low-income parents on child development, nutrition and literacy.
Laura Wells, director of the group Fight Crime, Invest in Kids, says their effectiveness in reducing child abuse has been proven – but they're not high-profile programs, so she's relieved they were not eliminated.
"They are programs that are typically operated by public health departments or nonprofit organizations. They aren't widely publicized in communities; however, families that are in need of these services are referred to them."
Thurston County Sheriff Dan Kimball has been speaking out in favor of home visits, because he believes there will be a greater need for them, as families experience more economic stress.
"The things that are a component of that, of course, are physical assaults and child abuse and child neglect. If you look at the evidence from these programs and how they help to reduce those incidents significantly, from a purely practical point of view, that means less work for us."
The state Senate budget includes a 30-percent cut to home visiting programs, but the House suggests only a 10-percent cut. Representatives from both bodies will negotiate a final figure as part of the state budget-balancing process.
The state programs involved are the "Nurse-Family Partnership" and "Parents as Teachers."
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