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Reichert Opening Statement: Hearing on the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program

April 02, 2014

Thank you for coming to today’s hearing on the new Federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.  Someone apparently thought naming a program M-I-E-C-H-V made sense.  But fortunately, at least the pronunciation of this acronym is the relatively simple “McVee” program, so I am going to stick with that.  

At its core, this program is designed to improve outcomes for children and families who face the greatest risk for abuse and neglect and a host of other problems that place too many kids far behind on the road of life.  Small home visiting programs have operated for decades, using a mix of federal, state, and private funds.  But the “McVee” program, when it was created in 2010, marked the first time there was dedicated federal funding for this purpose.  

Our purpose today is to review what we know about the effects of this program, so we can begin thinking about next steps.  Earlier this week, we got a little more time with the program’s extension through March 2015.  But there is a lot to consider here, so it’s good that we have a head start.  

For instance, we need to review whether the actual outcomes of this program are living up to its promise in terms of producing better outcomes for children and families.  We also need to think about whether the program’s mix of supporting proven and promising approaches continues to makes sense.  And we should consider whether this program should continue to have 100 percent federal funding, especially since some of the positive outcomes we hope to see will benefit our state partners.  For my part, I am interested in how we can apply the basic discipline of this program – which uses taxpayer funds to support what we know works to help children and families – to other government programs that today can’t say the same thing.

Fortunately, we have a distinguished set of experts to help us sort through those questions and more.  That list includes a service provider and recipient of home visitation services from my home state of Washington, so we will have an opportunity to ask some real “how does this work at ground level” questions, too.   We welcome all of our witnesses today, and look forward to their testimony.