On Wednesday, March 15, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing and took the first step toward a reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program.  Members from both sides seemed positive in their assessment of the program they were also well informed on how the program was working in their respective districts and states.  Chairman Adriane Smith opened with a prepared statement that said,

MIECHV is one of the only social programs where funding is tied to proven evidence. For a home visiting model to be funded, an evaluation must show the program has demonstrated significant, positive outcomes in areas such as reducing child abuse and neglect, improving maternal and child health, and improving economic self-sufficiency. Many of these approved models are now being further studied through a rigorous random assignment evaluation to better measure their impacts so we know families are receiving real help.

“States have also been held accountable for demonstrating positive outcomes for children and families. If they don’t show improvements in four of six areas specified in law, they have to explain how they plan to improve their services to get results, which again, provide real help to struggling families. 

“My top priority for this Subcommittee in this Congress continues to be ensuring greater opportunity for Americans. Last week, I was grateful to learn more about how the home visiting program empowers Nebraska parents to provide a better life for their children and I look forward to hearing more about similar efforts across the country today as we look toward MIECHV reauthorization.”

His comments were followed by opening remarks by Ranking Member Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) who in 2006 was a sponsor of the Education Begins At Home Act to establish home visiting funding at the federal level.  Like many members during the hearing he was well versed in the program’s impact in his district.  He also raised concerns and questions about working more with fathers.

Member comments and questions were framed around how local programs were managing when the funding and the reach of the program is limited by funding levels.  They also asked about how local programs address a lack of services in some areas, state coordination between urban and rural needs and how programs maintained fidelity to the specific model.

Witnesses offering testimony included Beth Russell, Nurse Home Visitor, Penn Medicine Lancaster General, Rosa Valentin, Client, Penn Medicine Lancaster General, Eric Bellamy, Home Visiting Manager, Children’s Trust of South Carolina, Diana Rauner, President, The Ounce of Prevention Fund.  There was special panel attention to Rosa Valentin, a young mother of 16 who discussed the impact a home visitor had on her daughter and her life.  Members were impressed with presentation and dedication.

The testimony coincided with the Home Visiting Coalition unveiling a new website.  CWLA has been a long-time member of the Coalition dating back to the middle of the last decade.