Home visiting is a voluntary, home-based prevention strategy used to support pregnant mothers and new parents to promote infant and child health, foster healthy child development, prevent child abuse and neglect, and improve school readiness and family self-sufficiency. Services are most often delivered by trained nurses, social worker or child development specialists. Evaluation findings of home visiting programs that are considered evidence-based show positive outcomes for children and families while creating long-term savings for states. For every dollar spent on these programs can provide a return on investment up to $5.70 per taxpayer dollar invested by reducing future costs associated with child abuse and neglect, poor health, academic failure.
Lawmakers have been investing state funds in home visiting programs for over a decade but with the passage of the federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant program, a provision within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, home visiting has gained national attention. Since 2010 this federal initiative has provided states with substantial resources for home visiting: $1.5 billion over five years (FYs 2010-2014) with an option for reauthorization. In March 2014, the U.S. Senate extended funding for the program through March 31, 2015.
State lawmakers play an important role in establishing effective home visiting policies in their states. They can determine how different sources of funding can be leveraged to sustain and improve the quality of states’ existing home visiting systems. They may also develop legislation to ensure the state is investing research-based home visiting models that demonstrate effectiveness and that accountability measures are in place. Examples of state enacted legislation from 2008-2014.