For the past few weeks, advocates for home visiting programs have been working with the House Ways and Means Committee staff to make progress on reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, which expires on September 30th, 2022.
On Wednesday, September 14th, the Ways and Means Committee indicated that they had come to an agreement on the soon-to-be-introduced bipartisan Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022, named for the late Congresswoman from Indiana, who passed away in a car accident earlier this summer. Representative Walorski was a strong champion for the MIECHV program.
MIECHV supports a range of home visiting models that allow communities to select and implement the programs that best address their needs, providing local flexibility and choice. This flexibility, coupled with the high standards for evidence of effectiveness, has led to strong bipartisan support for the reauthorization this year. Representatives on both sides of the aisle praised MIECHV programs during the hearing last spring and committed to continued bipartisan support.
According to the Home Visiting Coalition’s letter of support, the reauthorization bill will thoughtfully address the requests that advocates have made of the committee, including:
- increasing MIECHV funding to $500 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 and doubling the funding up to $800 million by Fiscal Year (FY) 2027
- doubling the Tribal set-aside, providing a $124 million increase over the next 5 years
- codifying the successes of virtual home visiting that have emerged
- dedicating a percentage to workforce support and retention
The increase in funding and the tribal set-aside are considered to be significant wins in a bipartisan agreement and are both much-needed; at this time, although home visiting programs have proven to be successful in strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect, the MIECHV funding only serves roughly 3-5% of eligible families. Increased funding will allow more children and families to benefit from the range of services provided by these programs, from education and information to help meeting basic needs.
It is expected that the reauthorization bill will be introduced on Monday, with a markup in the Ways and Means Committee possibly on Wednesday. Several members of the House Ways and Means Committee have already agreed to cosponsor the bill, though it is unclear how quickly the Senate will move to take it up once it clears the House. Because the current MIECHV program expires at the end of the month, a short continuing resolution may be necessary to avoid a lapse in funding.