Lawmakers have been investing state funds in home visiting for over a decade. Home visiting is a voluntary two-generation prevention strategy used to support pregnant mothers and new parents to promote infant and child health, foster healthy child development and improve school readiness. Evidence-based home visiting evaluation findings show positive well-being outcomes for children and families while creating long-term savings for states.
Recently home visiting has gained national attention with the passage of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting grant program, a provision within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This federal initiative provides states with substantial resources for home visiting: $1.5 billion over five years (2010-2014) with an option for reauthorization. It also emphasizes evidence-based home visiting models, of which thirteen models meet federal criteria, with 75 percent of the federal funding directed to such programs.
Legislators 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 develop legislation to ensure the state is investing in research-based home visiting models that demonstrate effectiveness and that accountability measures are in place.