Though the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program has been in existence for less than a year, it is taking off rapidly. Now is the time for your organization to get involved.
Not only does it provide a much needed service, the program creates an opportunity for local organizations and agencies to work in partnership with federal, state and local governments. Right now, states are working on their State Needs Assessment, which is due on September 20th, 2010. The purpose of the State Needs Assessment is for states to identify their at-risk communities and existing resources in those communities.
It may not be too late for organizations to contribute. States would benefit from the expertise of the non-profit community, since many of these organizations operate in at-risk communities. Non-profits can better provide states with information regarding the demographics they serve, the resources available and the needs of these communities. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is encouraging organizations that offer evidence-based home visitation programs to include the families they serve in the State Needs Assessment process. Input from the families that will benefit from the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program is an invaluable contribution to the program’s implementation.
States must also report on the availability and effectiveness of existing state or federally-funded home visitation programs. If your organization falls in this category, you should contact your state’s Title V agency director, Title II Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) director, the director of the Head Start State Collaboration Office or the agency that provides substance abuse services. Each of these offices is required to sign off of on the State Needs Assessment since, more likely than not, they target the same population groups. Make sure your organization is not overlooked.
This home visitation program is intended to be collaborative. As of July 2010, every state has committed to applying for home visitation funding. States would have still had to submit the State Needs Assessment, even if they had not applied for home visiting funds, in order to receive their FY 2011 Title V block grant funding. Binding the release of Title V funding to the submission of the State Needs Assessment shows how serious the federal government is about coordinating efforts.
Some of the overall goals of the home visitation program are to improve health outcomes for mother and child pre- and post- birth, strengthen the cognitive and physical development of the child, enhance parenting skills, enable economic self sufficiency for low-income families, and to better connect families with other supportive services that they may be eligible for within their communities. Ultimately, this program is designed to be a piece of an already existing network of support that bolsters positive outcomes for children and families.