A new program from the US Department of Health and Human Services will provide $224 million to help at-risk families voluntarily receive home visits from nurses and social workers to improve maternal and child health, child development, school readiness, economic self-sufficiency, and child abuse prevention, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced yesterday.

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program will work with families to evaluate their circumstances, help parents gain the skills they need to succeed in promoting healthy development in their children, and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child's health, development, and ability to learn, an HHS press release said: