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Critical home visiting program requires reauthorization this fall

The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), a federal and state partnership supporting family and child home visiting programs to enhance early childhood development, will expire on September 30 at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 unless Congress takes action to extend its authorization and funding. Without congressional reauthorization, critical evidence-based home visiting programs that strengthen high-risk families may be terminated or see lapses in funding. MIECHV funded programs are in place in every state and operate in 656 counties.

MIECHV helps counties improve maternal and child health, prevent child abuse and neglect, encourage positive parenting and promote child development and school readiness. Additionally, counties have the flexibility to tailor MIECHV funding to serve the specific needs of their communities’ most vulnerable populations.

In 2010, Congress established MIECHV to facilitate federal, state and local collaboration to improve the health of at-risk children through evidence-based programs. These home visiting programs connect families to necessary services and monitor child developmental progress. MIECHV provides federal funds to support these programs implemented by states and localities. In FY 2017, Congress funded MIECHV at $400 million.

Currently, the MIECHV program reaches families in 893 counties. In FY 2016, the MIECHV program funded services in 35 percent of all urban counties and 23 percent of all rural counties. Counties also serve as nearly one-quarter of MIECHV Local Implementing Agencies (LIAs), allowing us to implement home visiting programs and deliver vital services to our residents.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee’s Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) introduced the Increasing Opportunity through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act (H.R. 2824), a bill reauthorizing MIECHV at the current level of $400 million per year for Fiscal Years 2018 through 2022. However, the committee has not taken up the legislation, and next steps in Congress remain uncertain. The MIECHV program could be reauthorized with a group of other health related bills, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which also must be reauthorized by the end of FY 2017.

NACo will continue to monitor any developments on the reauthorization of MIECHV and other related programs.

Resources: To view NACo’s new report on federal programs serving those in need, please click here.