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Congress Asked to Continue Support for New Parents at Home

PHOTO: The Children's Defense Fund in Ohio is among 22 state organizations that want to see federal funding for programs that help struggling parents continue. Unless Congress acts, funding will expire in March for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Photo credit: Presto44/Morguefile.
PHOTO: The Children's Defense Fund in Ohio is among 22 state organizations that want to see federal funding for programs that help struggling parents continue. Unless Congress acts, funding will expire in March for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Photo credit: Presto44/Morguefile.
December 16, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The clock is ticking on federal funding for a program that helps struggling parents with young children.

Unless Congress takes action, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program will expire in March.

A coalition of 750 organizations and nonprofits, including 22 in Ohio, has sent a letter asking the program continue as it has for decades.

Renuka Mayadev, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, says the concept of home visitations has always had bipartisan support. Research has shown voluntary home visits, usually conducted by nurses or social workers, can prevent serious problems and learning deficits.

"The evidence-based Home Visiting Program has been shown to improve prenatal and birth outcomes and early childhood development," says Mayadev. "Most importantly, it prepares our young children for school."

According to Mayadev, there's another "payoff" to the program. She cites a RAND Corporation report that found home visiting programs saved up to $6.00 for every $1.00 invested.

Mayadev says many parents are very young, experienced abuse or neglect themselves as children, are disconnected from their parents, or have aged out of the foster system. They may also face a variety of financial challenges. She says home-visiting professionals offer non-judgmental support and can help parents be successful in their new role.

"There are many families who are struggling in this economy," she says. "Some are holding one, two, three jobs while taking care of all their children. They could use this support while taking care of a new infant."

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevent Child Abuse America, and The Salvation Army are among the national organizations which signed the letter. Ohio signatories to the letter include The Children's Defense Fund, Voices for Ohio's Children, and the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

Funding nationally has been at about $400 million per year.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH