Federal Funding for Newborn Home Visit Programs Extended

A number of programs that send trained volunteers to the homes of new moms to help out and dispense advice and support will receive federal funding for another 6 months, following a Congressional vote to extend the funds.  More from The New York Times:

Similar community models [to a New Hampshire program called Good Beginnings] make the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs funded through the federal-state partnership successful, said Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund. “In Utah, state organizations noticed a high rate of infant mortality among the Asian Pacific Islander population. For that group, the best messenger is the aunt or grandmother — a registered nurse might not be as effective as a trained parent educator.” Federal funds went to a program designed to understand the community it was trying to reach. “They were able to greatly reduce infant mortality rates,” Ms. Perry said. In the mid-2000s, the infant mortality rate for Pacific Islander families in Utah was more than double the statewide rate. Just a few years later, it was lower than the rate in the rest of the state, with nearly 48 percent more babies living.

In a bipartisan vote, Congress approved a six-month extension of the federal funding that goes to the programs, which would have run out in September 2013. That means it will be months before program directors and employees will once again have to turn their attention to securing their funding for another year — months that can be spent on work that increases family self-sufficiency, reduces medical costs and even lessens the need for remedial education for the children in participating families.

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