Chairman Davis Opening Statement at Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Hearing on Improving Family Outcomes through Home Visiting
(As prepared for delivery)
Home visiting is a powerful tool to help young children and families thrive.
I introduced my first bipartisan home visiting bill nearly two decades ago, and I am a strong supporter of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, or MIECHV, which was enacted in 2009 and reauthorized with bipartisan support in 2018.
I look forward to working with the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, to reauthorize MIECHV again this year and build on its success.
Congresswoman Walorski also has been deeply engaged in supporting home visiting, and I was grateful when she visited with home visiting programs in my district in Chicago several years ago.
Home visiting works because parents want what’s best for their children. But sometimes, we all can use a little help. That’s what home visitors provide - whether it’s:
- making sure moms get good prenatal care,
- tracking developmental milestones,
- spotting postpartum depression,
- teaching parenting skills, or
- connecting families with services that put food on the table or a roof over their heads.
We know from decades of rigorous research that the specific approaches to home visiting that MIECHV funds:
- reduce maternal mortality and morbidity,
- improve infant and child health,
- improve school readiness,
- decrease incidence of child neglect, and
- promote family well-being and stability.
We further know that it’s important to match the right home visiting approach to communities and families. That is why MIECHV offers states and territories a choice of proven models, as well as the opportunity to test new approaches to better meet local needs.
The federal government did not invent home visiting. My home state of Illinois has invested in home visiting for 30 years, and we are not alone.
But since its enactment in 2009, MIECHV has played a vital role in strengthening state and local efforts.
When MIECHV began, seven home visiting models met the gold standard of “proven effectiveness” that the law requires.
Today, those original models have built on their strong foundations to tailor services to different populations – including:
- tribal nations,
- expectant and parenting foster youth,
- incarcerated parents,
- fathers, and
- homeless parents.
Now, twelve more research-tested models appear on the gold standard list, giving even more options for families.
MIECHV Home Visiting works.
Unfortunately, MIECHV serves just a tiny fraction of the families who could benefit, only an estimated three to five percent of eligible families before the pandemic.
As we reauthorize this important program, our first job is to provide steady, guaranteed support so we don’t lose any of the successes we have.
I also hope we will build on our past success to help even MORE families, while:
- retaining the talented home visiting workforce,
- continuing to tailor home visiting to the needs of specific families and communities, and
- maintaining our high standard of proven effectiveness.
Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” That is the opportunity we have as we reauthorize MIECHV.