Feb. 24

A weekly publication of               2/24/2014

Did you know... 

The MIECHV law requires that 75 percent of grant funds be used to support the implementation of evidence-based practices that have been rigorously evaluated and for which there is well-documented evidence of success.

Dear Pat,

Congress is about to determine the future of one of the most innovative government programs you’ve probably never heard of:

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV).

The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, or MIECHV, program has supported high-risk families in communities across the country through intensive home visiting services. Congress established the program in 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and in March 2014, extended funding through March 2015, building on the initial $1.5 billion investment. The majority of MIECHV funds support evidence-based home visiting services that have been rigorously evaluated and have proven to be effective strategies for improving outcomes for families and for saving public resources over the long term.

MIECHV-funded programs are in place in every state and operating in 656 counties.

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting supports pregnant women and families and helps parents of children from birth to age 5 tap the resources and develop the skills they need to raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. MIECHV provides federal funds to support programs that connect families with trained professionals—often nurses, social workers, or parent educators—who help parents acquire the skills they need to promote their children’s development.
The visitors provide health check-ups and referrals, parenting advice and guidance with navigating other government programs. The programs are voluntary but ask parents to make plans and follow through with them. The visits, which usually last about an hour, vary in frequency from weekly to monthly, depending on the program and the age of the child.

Over the past five years, MIECHV grantees have built home visiting systems that reach the most vulnerable children and families in their communities. However, the tremendous efforts state and tribal grantees have put forth on implementation and systems building have not been broadly highlighted.

The Center for Law and Social Policy, or CLASP, and The Center for American Progress, or CAP, conducted a study to identify how states are using Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting funds to advance state home visiting systems. Interviews with 22 states and tribal organizations reveal the breadth of innovation and success across the country as a result of MIECHV funding. Here are just a few efforts that grantees highlighted as particular successes in interviews:                               (you can see the entire list in the report)

Expanded services

Every grantee is expanding evidence-based home visiting services to more vulnerable children and families in high-risk communities. MIECHV provides additional resources to bolster existing services where home visiting was already an established program and create statewide infrastructures to introduce home visiting where it was not available. Using needs assessments, grantees identified the most high-risk populations and are directing resources to expand home visiting within these communities.

Retention of staff and families

To ensure families receive the full benefits of participating in home visiting programs, they must remain engaged throughout the curriculum and complete the appropriate number of visits with their home visitor. Many grantees use MIECHV funds to identify strategies to improve program retention and ensure that families achieve positive outcomes.

Systemic training, technical assistance, and professional development

MIECHV funds enable grantees to provide technical assistance and training to support home visiting staff in providing the most effective services possible and ensuring that quality standards are being met. Professional development provided with MIECHV funding strengthens the home visiting workforce and extends its capacity to deliver high-quality services to children and families.

Expanded use of evidence-based models and evaluation

Since MIECHV places a high value on evidence-based programs, the grant increases the reach of the most effective home visiting services. Grantees use MIECHV funds to ensure that they implement models with fidelity by incorporating continuous quality improvement, or CQI, and ongoing evaluation into their implementation. Grantees are also using MIECHV to evaluate promising practices and develop an evidence base for new home visiting models.

Innovation and promising practices

As a result of the MIECHV program, grantees achieve a broad range of innovation. States utilize funds to establish many unique and interesting enhancements, programs, and initiatives related to service delivery, systems development, training, incorporation of technology, and more. The design of the grant programs allows states the freedom and flexibility to be creative in how they achieve the results intended by the grant.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has this to say about extending funding for MIECHV:

The failure of Congress to extend funding for the MIECHV program would have unfortunate consequences for communities in every state.  Research supports the notion that home visiting programs can enhance parenting and support young children’s early development with long-term outcomes for children, parents, and public cost savings.  MIECHV has brought evidence-based home visiting services to more vulnerable children in the most at-risk communities.

The MIECHV program has also been essential for the development of statewide home visiting systems with states building the infrastructure needed to support lasting, effective programs.  But, without a continued federal investment, states — and the nation — will lose the opportunity to reap the benefits of a well-crafted, evidence-based initiative.

MIECHV is a wise investment and a good use of taxpayer money. We urge you to call or write your members of Congress and urge them to fund the extension of the MIECHV program at its current funding level prior to
March 2015.

~ Sources: The Center on Budget and Policy PrioritiesBrookings.edu BlogsThe Center for American ProgressCLASP.

Tuesday, March 3, 1:30pm – 2:30pm, Hearing - SB 255- establishing a low-wage service worker task force, Senate Commerce Committee, Room 100, State House

Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!

A few weeks ago we started to explore the public’s perception of the people who live in poverty. Let’s continue that conversation today with a look at Granite Staters’ perception of poverty in our state.

New study reveals lawmakers & residents agree:
NH government can and should do more to reduce poverty 

Most believe 4 in 10 residents are “working but poor”

New Hampshire residents and lawmakers share a common belief that state government can and should do more to keep people out of poverty.  Recent public opinion research commissioned by the Investing in Communities Initiative also found that Granite Staters perceive poverty as a more real and pervasive problem in the state than official statistics indicate.

“The research tells us that the public has a very different view of poverty than official statistics suggest,” said Melissa Bernardin, Investing in Communities Initiative Director.  “They see that many of their friends and neighbors are living on the edge and that they, too, face significant economic uncertainty.”

“The good news is that people have hope that we can do something about it,” she said.

The research was conducted over several months in 2014 to gauge public attitudes towards poverty –including its causes, consequences, and potential solutions.  The research included a telephone survey of 600 NH residents, five focus groups, and interviews with a bipartisan cross-section of 69 NH legislators, to see how lawmakers’ views matched up with public opinion.   Myers Research & Strategic Services, a public opinion research firm, conducted the work on behalf of the Investing in Communities Initiative (ICI).  The Initiative is a nonpartisan project founded in 2013 to build capacity among NH organizations that advocate for low-income and vulnerable people.

“The results tell us some very important things,” said Andrew Myers, principal and CEO of Myers Research.  “People understand the difficulties facing low-income families in New Hampshire. They get it. This may be the Granite State, but people don’t have hearts of stone.”

“Most importantly,” he said, “they want state government to do something about poverty.”

According to Myers, “NH residents understand that other actors, such as nonprofit groups and churches, have a role in addressing poverty. Yet, they believe that government is best suited to solve the problem.”

New Hampshire typically ranks well in state-by-state rankings of poverty and economic distress.  The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 8.7% of state residents fell below the Federal Poverty Line in 2013, less than in surrounding states and well below the national average.  However, survey respondents painted a different picture.  When asked what portion of state residents they think are living in poverty (using their own judgment, without an official measurement), they said that more than a quarter (27%) of the state’s population is poor.  When asked to include the ranks of the “working poor,” they estimated that 37% of the state’s population - almost 4 in 10 people – is “working but poor.”

“From the survey results and focus groups, it’s clear that many people are just a costly car repair away from financial ruin, or know others who are,” said Myers.

Interestingly, lawmakers interviewed perceived a lower level of poverty in the state (18 percent) than their constituents (27 percent).

Still, more than half of the lawmakers – a full 57% -- reported having been poor themselves.  Of NH residents surveyed, one in four (25%) said they currently have only one month of savings or less to rely on in case of an emergency.

Even with differing views about the prevalence of poverty, the study found agreement among lawmakers (both Democrats and Republicans) and New Hampshire residents as to perceived causes of poverty and potential solutions.  Residents showed strong support for measures to create pathways out of poverty, such as raising the minimum wage, improving access to job training, as well as improving access to affordable child care that will enable parents to work. In fact, 55% of people surveyed said they want the state government to do more to address poverty. 

Among legislators interviewed, 61% said that the state government is not doing enough to address the causes of poverty.  They also pointed to “empowerment” types of solutions that emphasized pathways into the job market, although it should be noted that the set of lawmakers interviewed – while bipartisan -- was not statistically representative of those in office today. (See description of methodology, attached.)

According to Bernardin, “Many in the Statehouse agree that government can and should do more – that government support for tools such as job training, child care, mental health and substance abuse treatment will help people find and keep jobs that pay enough to support their families.”

Last week Melissa joined Brady Carlson on NHPR to talk about the research. Please take a few minutes to read, or listen to, that conversation here.

The Investing in Communities Initiative is a nonpartisan project dedicated to strengthening the skills, knowledge and expertise of New Hampshire’s nonprofit advocacy field in support of public policies that foster health, wellness, and improved economic and social conditions for all New Hampshire residents.

For more information, contact Melissa Bernardin at the Investing in Communities Initiative, 603-828-2442.

MaryLou Beaver
New Hampshire Director
Every Child Matters Education Fund

You can help win the fight for our kids by making a tax-deductible donation to ECM in any amount at www.everychildmatters.org.

Every Child Matters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to make children a national political priority. For more information, visit www.everychildmatters.org
1023 15th St. NW Suite 401 Washington, DC 20005

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