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Funding Uncertain for Home-Visitation Programs In NM

PHOTO: Young families don't always have a lot to smile about. Those who are struggling may benefit from home-visiting services, and a number of New Mexico organizations want to make sure Congress renews funding for these programs. Photo credit: FEMA.
PHOTO: Young families don't always have a lot to smile about. Those who are struggling may benefit from home-visiting services, and a number of New Mexico organizations want to make sure Congress renews funding for these programs. Photo credit: FEMA.
December 15, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The clock is ticking on federal funding that helps struggling parents with young children in New Mexico and across the nation.

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

Baji Rankin, executive director of the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children, says research shows that voluntary home visits, usually conducted by nurses, social workers or other community workers, can prevent serious problems and help with a child's development.

Her group is part of a coalition of 750 organizations and elected leaders that sent a letter to Congress asking that the program continue as it has for decades.

"And home visiting is one of those essential programs that can really make a difference in the lives of children and families, and the economy of New Mexico," Rankin stresses.

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

There's a financial payoff for the state as well. Rankin points to a RAND Corporation report that found home-visiting programs saved up to $6 for every dollar invested.

"So just the fact that services will come earlier to the child saves so much in terms of the child's potential, but also – it saves money," she points out.

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 - NM