The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) is designed to support at-risk families during pregnancy and early childhood. Home visiting family support programs match parents with trained providers, such as nurses or parent educators. These providers then visit the family at home one to two times a month from the time a mother is pregnant through the first few years of the child’s life.
We all know that children do not come with instruction manuals so these home visits can be invaluable to vulnerable families that may not have access to outside support or lack experience or knowledge of basic parenting skills. The providers help the families access the information and resources that can support the physical and emotional health of babies and entire families. During their time in the program, the parents receive support and information about how children grow and learn. They are taught about providing a safe and enriching environment for their children.
The program is federally funded and locally administered and has been shown to reduce health care costs, reduce need for remedial education, and increase family self-sufficiency. Here is why, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts:
Reduced health care costs
• Mothers who participated in the Nurse-Family Partnership in Pennsylvania were 26 percent more likely to quit smoking while pregnant.
• A home visiting program in North Carolina, Durham Connects, has been shown to pay for itself by the time a baby is 3 months old, through reductions in use of government medical assistance.
• Children who have strong bonds with their parents have better lifelong emotional health and a lower risk of later problems, including alcoholism, eating disorders, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.
Reduced need for remedial education
• In first grade, children who participated in Healthy Families New York were nearly twice as likely as other at-risk children to be able to follow directions, complete work on time, or work cooperatively with others—the foundational skills needed for a lifetime of learning.
• Parents that participated in Parents as Teachers were more likely to read aloud, tell stories, say nursery rhymes, and sing with their children. These activities are key to successful brain development and lifetime language skills.
• Mothers who participated in Healthy Families Arizona were found to be five times more likely than other similar mothers to be enrolled in an education or a job training program.
• Mothers who have more years of formal education have higher family income, are more likely to be married, and have better-educated spouses. They work more but do not spend less time breastfeeding, reading to their children, or taking them on outings.
• Children of better-educated mothers also do better in math and reading at ages 7 and 8. Better-educated mothers are more likely to invest in their children through books, providing musical instruments, special lessons, or the availability of a computer.