A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that could increase federal spending on home visiting programs to support new and expectant mothers by up to 60%.
With a fiscal cliff looming at the end of this month for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), the House proposal would take base annual funding for home visiting from $400 million to $500 million. It would also establish a $300 million pot for states to draw down additional funds for home visiting that they are willing to match with local dollars.
The bill was quickly endorsed by the Home Visiting Coalition, a group of more than three dozen organizations nationwide. The group has called for an update to the program that would increase funding, especially the amount going to Native American tribes, and continued flexibilities to allow virtual home visiting in certain circumstances.
The home visiting program, which was piloted under the Bush administration and grew as part of the Affordable Care Act, is currently funded at $400 million per year. But funds for the program will expire on Sept. 30, the end of the 2022 fiscal year, meaning a new authorization is necessary for funds to flow in fiscal 2023.
The funds help states support programs that pair professionals with new and expecting young parents to help them with the transition into parenthood. States can use the money to pay for any of the 20 models of home visiting listed on the federal evidence-based clearinghouse.
The House plan somewhat blends the hopes of advocates to raise the funding level with a Republican plan from 2018 to grow spending with a state match requirement. The coalition was pushing for the amount to escalate from $400 million up to $1.4 billion by 2027.
House authors wrote in a base increase to $500 million starting in fiscal 2023. They also created a matching pot that begins with $50 million in 2023, and ramps up steadily to $300 million by 2027. States can get a piece of that pot by ponying up a 25% match. The last time MIECHV was up for renewal, Republicans in the House Ways and Means Committee wanted to move toward a system where all funds for home visiting would eventually have to be matched by states.
The bill, which has 50 co-sponsors, was introduced by several members of the House Ways and Means Committee. It is named The Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022, in deference to the late Congresswoman from Indiana. Walorski, a major champion of home visiting and a leader on the committee’s child welfare legislation, died in a car accident last month at the age of 58.
No related legislation has been introduced in the Senate yet. On The Imprint Weekly Podcast this week, Jenny Harper of Nurse-Family Partnership, one of the largest home visiting programs in the country, said she expects that a final reauthorization will get worked out as part of a larger year-end package of legislation this winter.
In addition to the potential for new funds from MIECHV several home visiting models have gained approval for child welfare funding through the Family First Prevention Services Act. Six versions of home visiting have been cleared for those funds, which flow from the Title IV-E child welfare entitlement for youth who have been deemed candidates for foster care.