In September 2017, the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) is set to expire. This program funds evidence based home visiting programs across Tennessee, and is vital to the health and well-being of families throughout the state. Evidence based home visiting uses a two generational approach, working with parents and young children to build strong foundations that prepare the next generation for healthy, productive lives. Much like building a home, the architecture of the developing brain begins with laying the foundation, framing rooms, and wiring the electrical system. Our ability to impact early brain development and build capacity for learning early is the basis of a prosperous and sustainable society.
We’ve made so much progress in Tennessee over the last five years building strong foundations for thousands of children through our three home visiting models supported by MIECHV. It would be highly unfortunate to cut out these programs in communities across Tennessee where we are seeing so many positive outcomes. Families that participate in MIECHV-funded evidence based home visiting programs are more likely to receive early prenatal care, have regular visits to their medical provider, reduce smoking, have reduction in childhood injury, and increase economic self-sufficiency. These outcomes have a lifelong impact on the entire population and community where parents have access to these vital services.
That’s why we are asking Congress to reauthorize MIECHV immediately. Home visiting is a smart, proven investment in our most important asset – our families. The early investment in home visiting saves the government $5.70 for every dollar invested. That’s a return any investor would take. MIECHV, in its current format, is flexible and effective, giving local communities the freedom to make decisions that are right for them about how to provide home visiting services. At the same time, it encourages innovation and continuous improvement, and that’s how it should remain.
Home visiting works. It gives parents the tools they need to build a solid foundation for their children that will have lasting impact. We must let our Senators and Representatives know that these programs are critical to the future health and prosperity of Tennessee.