On Wednesday, September 21st, 2022 the Ways and Means Committee marked up the Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Act of 2022, which CWLA has endorsed. With family members of the late Congresswoman Walorski in attendance, members of the committee shared their memories of her and condolences for her loss. She was remembered fondly for her passion for women and children and her willingness to work collaboratively to achieve bipartisan goals.
Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) opened the markup, noting that the bill provides the largest funding increase in the program’s history, ensuring funding predictability to support families and the staff providing services. Increased funding will serve more eligible families, retain workforce, maintain standard of effectiveness. Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) pointed out that the bill renews the programs commitment to moms and babies and supports the most vulnerable families, targets those who need help the most. He noted that home visiting programs mitigate risk factors to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis used his opening remarks to draw attention to the bill’s investment in tribal communities, which more than doubles the tribal set-aside. He highlighted the investment in workforce, noting that states and territories will have reliable and predictable funding.
Many of the committee members offered comments, repeating these themes and others. Many members highlighted the strong evidence base required for federally-funded MIECHV programs, making it the gold standard for evidence-based policy. Several members shared stories of families in their districts that had been positively impacted by home visiting programs, while Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) shared her personal experience with home visiting nurses.
Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) pointed out that currently, less than 5% of eligible families receive MIECHV services and that even the historic, and much-needed, investments in this bill will not expand the program sufficiently to serve every eligible family.
Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee, offered the only amendment to the bill, proposing the creation of the Jackie Walorski Technical Assistance Center for Effective Case Management. The committee leadership and members supported the amendment.
The bill was voted favorably out of the committee and will now go to the full House of Representatives for passage. It is currently uncertain when that vote will take place.