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Parental Coaching Program Cheerleaders Seek Stable Funding

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 by Greg Stotelmyer.
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 by Greg Stotelmyer.
December 19, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. - The clock is ticking on federal funding that helps struggling parents with young children. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program expires in March, unless Congress takes action.

A coalition of 750 organizations and elected leaders has sent a letter asking that the program continue as it has for decades. Karen Howard, vice president of early childhood policy at First Focus Campaign for Children, explains the home visiting idea began about 40 years ago and research has shown voluntary home visits, usually conducted by nurses or social workers, can prevent serious problems and learning deficits.

"It is a real effective strategy for, particularly low-income families and women, building up their knowledge base and their self-esteem so that they can be capable parents," Howard says.

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

Mike Hammons, director of Kentucky's Voice for Early Childhood, a statewide advocacy network, says there's "overwhelming evidence" home visitation programs work, from limiting birth complications to reducing domestic violence.

"The importance of a healthy environment, the importance of a learning environment, the importance of interacting well with the children and reading to them as they get a little older," Hammons says. "All of those are key pieces of a healthy development that will position a child later for success in school and life."

Kentucky's Voice for Early Childhood is one of seven Kentucky organizations that signed the letter to Congress. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevent Child Abuse America and Salvation Army are among the national organizations that signed the letter. Funding has been at about $400 million a year.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY