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Giving Compass' Take:
• Hechinger Report details how home visiting programs with trained nurses have helped mothers across the country improve the health and language skills of their children — but government investment is on the wane.
• Can nonprofits or business leaders step in to help support these evidence-based programs, especially those that target low-income families? Both early education and health philanthropists should take note.
• Learn more about why early childhood education is so important.
Nationwide, high-quality home visiting programs have been found to have a profound impact on families, with some programs reducing language delays for children by 21 months, and reports of behavioral and emotional problems of children at age 6, in addition to decreasing state-verified reports of child abuse and neglect. Other research has found the effects of home visiting programs can last a lifetime: A RAND analysis found that for every $1 invested in the Nurse Family Partnership home visiting program, communities see a return of as much as $5.70 because they save in medical, social and criminal justice costs.
One program, Healthy Families Hillsborough (in Tampa, FL), has even helped families pay bills and buy food in times of need. In the 20 years the county has offered such services, more moms are breastfeeding and more women get prenatal care early in pregnancy.
These results are a big deal in a country that has the highest rate of infant mortality in the developed world. American babies are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS as infants in similarly wealthy countries, according to one study. But instead of going all in on a program with a track record of reversing those numbers, Congress has kept funding level, passing legislation earlier this year that provides $400 million each year for the next five years, the same funding as in prior years.
Every state offers home visiting, with nearly 312,000 babies served nationwide in 2016 by an evidence-based program. States often pay for these programs with a mix of federal funding, state funding, and private funding. Since 2010, Congress has authorized $1.85 billion to support those efforts. But lawmakers this year delayed a vote to reauthorize the funds by several months. Home visiting programs nationwide were put at risk.
Read the full article about the home visiting program that can help moms and babies by Jackie Mader at The Hechinger Report.