Last week Congressman Danny Davis introduced HR 4768, the Home Visiting to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Act. The legislation will increase funding for the home visiting program, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. The Davis bill will increase funding from the current $400 million in mandatory funding to $600 million in 2021 to $800 million in 2022, doubling current funding over that time..

MIECHV provides states with approximately $400 million per year to fund a number of evidence-based home visiting models. The program was created as part of the ACA in 2010. There is a range of home visiting models that states had implemented for several years, but the MIECHV program provides states with some initial assessment and planning money to expand and coordinate their home visiting services. Initially, there were less than a half dozen models that met the required practices and standards, but the list of models has expanded.

CWLA has endorsed the legislation with several organizations, including Prevent Child Abuse America, Healthy Family Services, Nurse-Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers, HIPPY, and Zero-to-Three. CWLA was one of the original supporters of the first bill introduced nearly fifteen years ago when it was sponsored by several prominent cosponsors including Congressman Danny Davis, Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO), Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Congressman Todd Platts (R-PA). Heading into the last presidential campaign, the home visiting coalition had hoped for an increase from the initial authorized level of $400 million to $800 million but had to settle on a long term extension without increases that was enacted in 2018.

In September 2019, HRSA awarded approximately $351 million in funding to 56 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations to support communities in providing home visiting services. By law, state and territory grantees must spend the majority of their grants to implement evidence-based home visiting models. Up to 25% of funding must go towards implementing promising approaches that will undergo rigorous evaluation.

As stated in an endorsement letter that CWLA signed onto last week, “home visiting programs impact maternal mortality and morbidity in myriad ways, including:

 Creating human-to-human relationships that enable home visitors to provide supports based on the               very specific needs of each family;
 Reducing pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders, pre-term birth, and maternal depression;
 Creating connections between mothers and health practitioners in the community, breaking down                 barriers to care and strengthening the link between healthcare resources and the families who need           them;
 Providing screening in maternal depression both prenatally and postpartum, and connecting mothers            in need with appropriate community-based behavioral health care;
 Providing referrals for mothers when certain risk factors, including trauma or domestic violence, are             present in the home;
 Providing resources to children who experience trauma and toxic stress, which research has shown to           lead to poor health outcomes for those children in adulthood;
 Targeting the social determinants of health affecting families, such as social support, parental stress,             access to health care, income, and poverty status, and environmental conditions.”

More information can be found at Human Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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