The federal government has finally released the guidelines states need to apply for their slice of $1.5 billion in new grant funding for home visiting programs, which connect new and expectant parents with trained nursing and early learning professionals.
The new guidelines issued late last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow Washington to apply for up to $1.3 million this year.
The first wave of these grants, part of federal health care reform that became law in March, will go to states this summer.
Over the next few weeks and months, we and our allies on the Washington Home Visiting Coalition will be working with state agencies and stakeholders on a plan for how Washington will use these home visiting funds.
Once the governor appoints an agency to administer the new funds, the money will go to home visiting programs in communities across the state. We hope these grants will give many more families access to evidence-based home visiting services, which have excellent track records for lowering rates of abuse and neglect while also setting children up for success in school.
Home visitors teach parenting skills, provide information on health and developmental checks, and help parents learn to provide a stable, stimulating environment so they can be their child’s first teacher and best advocate.
Very few families get the full benefits of home visiting because of limited funding – we estimate that home visiting programs reach only about one in 10 of the eligible families who are most likely to enroll.
But lawmakers on on both the state and federal level have made solid commitments to expand access to high-quality home visiting. Those commitments will push us closer toward our goal of ensuring that all of Washington’s vulnerable children and families get to experience the positive supports home visiting provides.
Read more about the work we're doing to raise public awareness about the benefits of home visiting.
– Lauren Platt, Children’s Alliance Early Learning Advocacy Coordinator