Future funding uncertain for Utah home visiting programs

Young families don't always have a lot to smile about. Those who are struggling may benefit from home-visiting services, and a number of Utah organizations want to make sure Congress renews funding for these programs. Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SALT LAKE CITY – The clock is ticking on federal funding that helps struggling parents with young children in Utah and across the nation. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program expires in March unless Congress takes action.

Trina Taylor, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah, part of a coalition of 750 organizations and elected leaders that sent <a href=”http://campaignforchildren.org/resources/letters-correspondence/750-organizations-letter-to-congress-extend-funding-for-the-maternal-infant-and-early-childhood-home-visiting-program/” target=”parent”>a letter</a> to Congress asking that the program continue as it has for decades, said research has shown that voluntary home visits, usually conducted by nurses or social workers, can prevent serious problems and help with a child’s development.

“They do testing to make sure that the baby is where they need to be – socially and emotionally, intellectually, physically,” she said, “and then, if they need resources, they make sure that that family gets hooked up with the right resources.”

Taylor said home visits also help ensure that children’s medical appointments are kept, homes are safe as babies begin to explore, and families receive books and other child-development tools.

There’s a financial payoff for the state as well, Taylor said, pointing to a RAND Corp. report that found home-visiting programs saved up to $6 for every $1 invested.

“If we just put our money in prevention dollars, and primary prevention before the abuse takes place,” she said, “then we don’t have to invest our dollars in the systems that have to take care of children and families who get caught up in them – such as the Division of Child and Family Services, and the foster-care system.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevent Child Abuse America and Salvation Army are among the national organizations that signed the letter. Funding nationally has been at about $400 million a year.

The letter is online at <a href=”http://campaignforchildren.org/resources/letters-correspondence/750-organizations-letter-to-congress-extend-funding-for-the-maternal-infant-and-early-childhood-home-visiting-program/” target=”parent”>campaignforchildren.org</a>.

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