WASHINGTON —U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.), and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, today announced $8,766,550 in federal funding to support the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (Home Visiting Program) in Maryland. These funds will allow Maryland to continue to expand voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children. Nationally, $386 million was awarded to states, territories, and nonprofit organizations to support the Home Visiting Program.
“Despite living in one of the wealthiest states in the country, far too many Maryland mothers and expecting mothers face barriers to raising healthy children,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care. The Home Visiting Program helps breaks down these barriers by focusing on community based solutions. By directly addressing low birth weight, teen birth rate, infant mortality and many more chronic issues we are saving money in the long run, more importantly we are saving lives. ”
“Families of modest means need a government on their side when it comes to accessing needed health care and support for their kids,” said Senator Mikulski, Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services. “As a former social worker, I’ve seen first-hand the impact a children’s care professional can make in the life and development of a child. These funds in the federal checkbook will help new and expecting parents across Maryland raise kids that are physically, socially and emotionally healthy.”
“Home visits by a nurse, social worker, or early childhood educator during pregnancy and in the first years of life can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many children and their families,” said Secretary Burwell. “Today’s awards give Maryland the flexibility to tailor its home visiting programs to address the specific needs of the communities it serves.”
The Home Visiting Program currently serves approximately one-third of the counties in the country with high rates of the following indicators: low birth weight, teen birth rate, living in poverty and infant mortality rates. More than 1.4 million home visits have been conducted through the national Home Visiting Program, serving parents and children in 721 counties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories. In 2014, the Home Visiting Program served 115,000 parents and children across the nation. Nearly 80 percent of families participating in the program had household incomes at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
Administered by Health Resources and Services Administration, in close partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the Home Visiting Program is one part of President Obama’s Early Learning Initiative that focuses on both high-quality infant and toddler care through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and universal Pre-K to improve the essential foundations in early childhood for future healthy development and well-being. Current authority for the Home Visiting Program expires on March 31, 2015. The President’s Budget requests $500 million for fiscal year 2016 and $15 billion over the next 10 years to continue to expand Home Visiting for families.