House passes home visiting bill
On Tuesday, June 5th, the Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation that promotes high quality home visiting programs by requiring the Departments of Community Health, Human Services and Education to collaborate to ensure that funds are used only for programs that meet certain standards.
The bill, House Bill 5572 (H.B. 5572), defines home visiting as voluntary services delivered primarily in the homes of families with children ages 0 to 5 and pregnant women. Exempted from the bill are early intervention services under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or programs that provide one-time or infrequent homes visits.
The goals for home visiting programs, as described in the bill, are to improve maternal, infant and child health outcomes; promote positive parenting practices; build healthy parent/child relationships; enhance social-emotional development; support children’s cognitive development; improve family health; empower families to be self-sufficient; reduce child maltreatment; and increase school readiness.
H.B. 5572 requires that public funds be used only for evidence-based programs that have proven, research-based outcomes, or promising programs that are showing success and where there is a commitment to evaluation. The definition of evidence-based and promising programs is contained within the bills.
Both evidence-based and promising programs would also be required to:
(1) follow a program design or manual that specifies the purpose, outcomes, duration and frequency of the services delivered;
(2) employ well-trained staff and provide ongoing professional development;
(3) demonstrate strong links to other community-based services;
(4) ensure compliance with home visitation standards; and
(5) operate with fidelity to the program model.
Michigan has a long history of investments in home visiting programs, and significant work is now underway to develop a coordinated, high quality home visiting system in Michigan. Those efforts were accelerated by the availability of federal funding under the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which is authorized under the Affordable Care Act. The goal of MIECHV is to build a home visiting system in Michigan that is integrated with the comprehensive Great Start early childhood system.
Under MIECHV, states can use federal funds for nine different home visiting models, five of which are now operating in Michigan including Early Head Start, Healthy Families America, Nurse Family Partnership, Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), and Parents as Teachers. Michigan’s largest home visiting program, the Medicaid Maternal and Infant Health Program (MIHP) is currently being evaluated to determine its effectiveness in meeting the needs of families and young children with high needs.
Research on home visiting programs shows the importance of investing in the first years of life. Children who receive high quality home visiting services develop better cognitive and language skills; show better social and emotional development, including fewer aggressive behaviors; are less likely to be maltreated; and are more ready for school. In addition, parents who are involved in the programs have improved pregnancy outcomes, are more able to provide competent care to their children, and are ultimately more economically self-sufficient.
H.B. 5572 is now being considered by the Michigan Senate, and was approved by the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services on June 6th. For more information on home visiting in Michigan, contact Melissa Freel, Director of Health Innovations at the Early Childhood Investment Corporation via email at email@example.com.