(Washington, D.C.)—Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after President Obama last night signed a six month-extension of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which is set to expire at the end of FY 2014. Senator Murray worked to secure the extension of the MIECHV program, which combines federal, state, tribal, and community efforts to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children through evidence-based home visiting programs, in the “Doc Fix” legislation that passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support over the last week.
The MIECHV program is based on the Education Begins at Home Act, legislation introduced by Senator Murray and former Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) in 2009. Initially passed as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the MIECHV program authorized $1.5 billion over five years for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support state and local home visiting programs for at-risk families. Home visiting programs are initiatives that make developmental, health and nutrition experts available on a voluntary basis to new and expecting parents and families to provide information, support, and resources to help guide them through pregnancy and their child’s first years.
“Decades of research and common sense tell us that providing new and expecting parents with the resources and information they need to raise healthy, successful children is one of the smartest investments we can make as a country, so I’m thrilled that the President and members of both parties have voted to extend the MIECHV program,” said Senator Murray. “As a former preschool teacher, a mother, and a grandmother, I’ve seen firsthand that children with the right support, nutrition, and education in their earliest years are better prepared to succeed in school and later in life, and I will continue working to support strong, accessible home visiting programs and early education for every child in America.”
Research has shown that the MIECVH program produces healthier children, lower health care costs, and reduced long-term public spending on education, law enforcement, and criminal detention. As a result, home visiting and the MIECHV program, specifically, have garnered significant support from a wide spectrum of organizations including educators, health care professionals, business leaders, and law enforcement.
Washington is one of only ten states that received a three-year competitive grant, in addition to formula funding received by all 50 states, to expand successful, local home visiting programs.