Programs providing home visits that can ultimately reduce pre-term births and the need for emergency room visits are being awarded $88 million from the federal government.
The funds, made available from the Affordable Care Act, are issued through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, and will enable nurses, social workers, and other health professionals to visit at-risk families in their homes.
The providers will be trained to evaluate family needs and connect them with healthcare services, developmental services for children, social work, educational programs, parenting skills, child abuse prevention programs and nutritional assistance.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement that the Affordable Care Act allows $1.5 billion to be spent on programs like this over the next five years.
The money will go to 49 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories that applied for funding. Those jurisdictions will conduct statewide assessments to see which home visitation programs qualify.
“This initiative will give children a healthier start and give parents the help they need to succeed in the most important job in the world—parenting,” Sebelius says. “This effort builds on impressive research findings and is one more piece of our strategy to invest in prevention and early interventions that pay off.”
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary Wakefield added, “States will be using these grants to design programs that best serve their residents, providing important help to at-risk families, while gathering more detailed information on which approaches work best to put young children on the path to a healthy life at an early age.” HRSA is working with the Administration of Children and Families. (http://www.acf.hhs.gov) on this program.
Each state’s governor designated his or her appropriate state agency to apply for the funds, to be allocated based on the number of children in families at or below 100% of the federal poverty level in that state or region, compared with the national number.