On Tuesday, September 16, the House passed the Increasing Opportunity and Success for Children and Parents through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act (H.R. 2824).  Support was not overwhelming at 214 to 209.  The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, would be reauthorized for 5 years at its current funding level of $400 million, and include many other policy changes to the program.

Four amendments were considered on the House floor.  Three were agreed to, and one failed (an amendment from Rep. Pascrell (D-NJ) to strike employment and earnings as a measure of self-sufficiency). The most significant change was exempting tribal communities from the new state match requirements.  That was through an amendment by Congresswoman Suzan Delbene (D-WA).

In addition to the reauthorization, the House bill requires a new state needs assessment by FY2020; requires measures and data on improvements in family economic self-sufficiency by factoring in measures of employment and earnings; allows states to take into account staffing, community resource, and other requirements when determining how to operate at least one home visiting model in communities in need of services; and allows a state to use their MIECHV allocation for “pay for outcomes” or “pay for success” projects, but requires that in doing so, a state cannot reduce funding for current services.

Although it now exempts tribal governments, it still requires a state or non-profit match of MIECHV grant funds beginning in FY2020 phasing to 50-50 match by FY2022 and beyond.

It now goes to the Senate where Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the “Strong Families Act of 2017,” reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV).

The Senate legislation was also co-sponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). It extends MIECHV for five years without the requirement that states match the grant dollar-for-dollar to remain eligible. It will continue at the same level of $400 million a year through 2022.

To Contact your Senator and to urge them to support the Senate bill, go here.

The Senate and Senate Finance Committee have many expired programs as of September 30.  For child advocates the most prominent is CHIP (see below).

There have been constant rumors that some of these expired programs including home visiting could be combined with CHIP but last week’s health care debate complicated a number of these efforts. Other programs for inclusion with CHIP include community health centers, many health-related “extenders” and unfounded outside-the-beltway rumors that the Families First Act could be tacked on.  Along with expiring appropriations and the need for more disaster relief, it all makes for a very packed October, November and December.