WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee hearing entitled “Reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program.”
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Today we are here to discuss the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, known as MIECHV, which helps support state and local efforts to provide voluntary, evidence-based, outcome-focused home visiting services to parents and children at risk of adverse experiences. The program’s objectives include promoting school readiness of young children, increasing economic self-sufficiency of families, improving prenatal health and birth outcomes, and preventing child abuse and neglect. This hearing will examine a range of home visiting models, review how states operate and fund programs, and highlight how an evidence-based home visiting program can produce positive outcomes for children and families.
“Federal funding for home visiting was first proposed in 2004 by Republican Senators Chris Bond and Jim Talent, both from Missouri. However, the first federal funds for evidence-based home visiting were provided in FY 2008, after Congress agreed to fund President George W. Bush’s proposal to test this approach and measure the outcomes. The MIECHV program was fully authorized in FY 2010 to continue these efforts, and is now up for reauthorization this year.
“I, like other members of this subcommittee, have had the opportunity to see first-hand what home visiting looks like in my community. Last Monday, I spent time with Panhandle Public Health District’s Healthy Families America program, which aims to improve the economic success and school readiness of vulnerable children and families in three Nebraska counties – Scotts Bluff, Morrill, and Box Butte.
“Dawn, one participant I met with on Monday, shared her experience of working with a home visitor who helped her find a stable home and a steady income in order to provide for her growing family. These are the types of outcomes we should be expecting and receiving from the use of limited taxpayer resources.
“Unfortunately, outcomes like these are the exception, rather than the rule, when we look around at how we help struggling families. Few federal social programs have been evaluated to determine if they are working, and almost none have conditioned funding on evidence of effectiveness. In our ‘Better Way’ agenda, we proposed measuring how well programs are working so we can focus funding on programs which produce real results. When we spend limited taxpayer dollars to help those in need, we must make sure we’re spending money on effective programs. To do otherwise is a disservice to both taxpayers and beneficiaries.
“MIECHV is one of the only social programs where funding is tied to proven evidence. For a home visiting model to be funded, an evaluation must show the program has demonstrated significant, positive outcomes in areas such as reducing child abuse and neglect, improving maternal and child health, and improving economic self-sufficiency. Many of these approved models are now being further studied through a rigorous random assignment evaluation to better measure their impacts so we know families are receiving real help.
“States have also been held accountable for demonstrating positive outcomes for children and families. If they don’t show improvements in four of six areas specified in law, they have to explain how they plan to improve their services to get results, which again, provide real help to struggling families.
“My top priority for this Subcommittee in this Congress continues to be ensuring greater opportunity for Americans. Last week, I was grateful to learn more about how the home visiting program empowers Nebraska parents to provide a better life for their children and I look forward to hearing more about similar efforts across the country today as we look toward MIECHV reauthorization.”