Rep. Smith (center) alongside staff and families from PPHD Healthy Families.

Chairman Adrian Smith Visits Local Family Support Program in Nebraska to Learn About the Importance of Federal Home Visiting Program

Rep. Smith (center) alongside staff and families from PPHD Healthy Families.
Rep. Smith (center) alongside staff and families from PPHD Healthy Families.

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) spent time learning about evidence-based practices that reduce child maltreatment and increase economic self-sufficiency in families.

(Scottsbluff, NE) – A top GOP lawmaker visited a program in his district on Monday, March 6, to learn more about the importance of federally funded home-visiting programs that are currently set to expire in September 2017.

Rep. Adrian Smith of Gering, NE, spent the morning at Panhandle Public Health District Healthy Families America, visiting with families benefitting from the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. Rep. Smith is Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources.

“We are grateful that Rep. Smith took the time to learn about home visiting in Nebraska and just how important this federal program is at the local level,” said Melissa Galles, HFA Program Manager/Supervisor. “MIECHV has had a significant impact on the economic success and school readiness of vulnerable children and families in Nebraska and we are counting on this important program to help families in our state thrive.”

At PPHD Healthy Families America, Rep. Smith met with parents like Paul and Mary, whose daughter was diagnosed with autism. Paul and Mary spoke about how MIECHV-funded programs like Healthy Families America provided much needed support to their family as they navigated the challenges of raising a child with autism.

Dawn, another participant in the Healthy Families America program, spoke about her struggles with homelessness while raising her children. With the help of PPHD, Dawn was able to connect with other community services that helped her find a home and stability in order to provide for her growing family. “I’m so thankful for this program,” she said. Today, Dawn not only has a good job, but is back in school furthering her education so she can be the best provider for her children possible.

“Evidence-based home visiting programs, like those funded through MIECHV, have been shown to be effective in improving outcomes for families,” Rep. Smith said.  “My top priority in Congress continues to be ensuring greater opportunity for Americans, and I was grateful to learn more about how the home visiting program empowers Nebraska parents to provide a better life for their children.  As our next hearing in the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee will focus on MIECHV, I look forward to sharing my observations from this visit with my colleagues.”

MIECHV provides evidence-based family support services to families of children at-risk for adverse childhood experiences, including child abuse and neglect. According to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), more than 85 percent of MIECHV participants are living below the poverty line. MIECHV builds upon decades of scientific research to support rigorously-evaluated programs with well-documented evidence of success.

Programs funded by MIECHV, such as Healthy Families America, have shown a positive impact on families’ chances for success, increasing parental education, job prospects, and community resources. Studies of Healthy Families America has shown that families who participate in the program are primed for future success. Research also indicates that children in the program are less likely to repeat first grade and more likely to be placed in gifted and talented programs than children in control groups.

“MIECHV is a successful bipartisan, federal-state partnership and a cost-effective policy that improves outcomes for low-income children and families,” said Dan Duffy, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “These evidence-based, voluntary home visiting services are proven to result in success for vulnerable children and families, and we are glad that Rep. Smith was here today and saw the positive impacts of MIECHV first-hand.”

As a partnership between federal and state governments, states like Nebraska use funds to implement programs that show positive results in multiple areas, including promoting school readiness of young children, increasing economic self-sufficiency of families, improving prenatal health and birth outcomes, and preventing child abuse and neglect. According to experts, Scotts Bluff County rated highest need out of all 17 counties identified on the statewide needs assessment.

“The importance of MIECHV cannot be overstated,” said Duffy. “Results in Nebraska and other states prove that this program is having a very real and very powerful effect on at-risk families. We owe it to ourselves and our country to continue funding MIECHV and helping to build the next generation of American leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.”

To learn more about MIECHV and the successes enjoyed by states and communities across the country, please visit homevisitingcoalition.com.

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