Pennsylvania to Increase Home-Based Support for At-Risk Pregnant Women, Families

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the Department of Human Services (DHS) received an $11.7 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to further support Pennsylvania families through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program.

“Supporting families means giving at-risk pregnant women and families the resources and skills they need to raise children who are healthy in every way, and ready to learn as they grow,” Governor Wolf said. “This federal grant allows DHS employees to visit more families in their homes to provide services to keep Pennsylvania families healthy.”

The MIECHV funds will support Pennsylvania’s four evidence-based home visiting programs – Nurse Family Partnership, Early Head Start, Parents as Teachers, and Healthy Families America.

Evidence shows that when families receive home-based support, their children are born healthier and are less likely to suffer from abuse or neglect. DHS’ home visiting programs offer voluntary, family-focused home visiting services to expectant parents and families with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Pennsylvania uses evidence-based home visiting models that are proven to improve child health and to be cost effective.

“Home visiting programs provide community-based assistance to Pennsylvania’s at-risk pregnant women and their families, so children can be prepared to enter school ready to learn,” said Acting Secretary of DHS Teresa Miller. “The Wolf administration is committed to ensuring our children are safe and healthy and the MIECHV grant will help us to improve maternal and child health, prevent child abuse and neglect, and encourage positive parenting.”

The awarded funds assist with programs that foster independence, promote health, encourage positive parenting, screen for risk factors, and equip families with the parenting techniques to provide better outcomes for their children.

Through federal grants from the MIECHV Program in fiscal year 2016, home visitors in Pennsylvania made 39,307 home visits to 6,574 parents and children in 3,282 families and served families living in communities in 47 counties across the state, or 70 percent of Pennsylvania counties, of which 22 counties are rural.

The regular, planned home visits, teach parents how to improve their family’s health and provide better opportunities for their children. Home visits may include supporting preventive health and prenatal practices, assisting parents on how best to breastfeed and care for their babies, helping parents understand child development milestones and behaviors, promoting parents’ use of praise and other positive parenting techniques, and working with parents to set goals for their future, continue their education, find employment and child care solutions, and access other resources in their community.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s home visiting programs, visit: www.pa-home-visiting.org.