Skip to content
  1. Latest News

Philadelphia Inquirer: Home Visiting Programs Allow Nurses To ‘Meet Families Where They’re At.’ Advocates Want Congress To Extend Its Funding

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

NaTosha Robinson has stage four lymphoma and after losing her left lung in 2020 often struggles to breathe. Her 5-year-old daughter, Sierra, struggled with delayed speech development. Robinson wanted to prepare her for school but didn’t know how to address concerns like Sierra’s difficulty holding a crayon, while also coping with her own health challenges.

“It’s a lot being a single parent and doing it on your own,” she said.

Things changed in 2021, when Jackie Nguyen entered their lives through a federal program that provides at-home support to pregnant people and families with young children who are at risk for poor physical and mental health.

Nguyen helped Robinson find an occupational therapist, taught Sierra how to write letters, and even tracked down an air conditioner for their apartment ahead of a heat wave.

“We meet families where they’re at,” said Nguyen, a nurse with the Mabel Morris Family Home Visit Program, one of the Philadelphia-based organizations that use the federal dollars to work with families.

But funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, or MIECHV, expires in December. Early childhood education, health advocates, and families like the Robinsons hope that Congress will not only reauthorize the program but also put more money behind it.

Satisfied families

In Pennsylvania, MIECHV supported nearly 30,000 home visits in over 2,800 households in fiscal year 2020. About 70% of those households were low income, and 12% had a child with developmental delays or disabilities.

Not all home visitors are nurses. MIECHV allows states to use the funding to support different interventions that promote maternal and child well-being, said Meredith Matone, scientific director of PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This gives communities flexibility to respond to local needs.

In an evaluation of MIECHV, Matone’s team found that the Pennsylvania program led to healthier behaviors, such as mothers quitting smoking, and that families generally found the program helpful in preparing their children for school.

“When we talked to families we found high satisfaction,” Matone said.

But the need outstrips the program’s reach. A 2020 needs assessment by the PolicyLab found that only 1.5% of Philadelphia families eligible for home visits received support.

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer.