Utah receives over $3 million for program assisting pregnant women, families with young children

Stock image from Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program brochure, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Health Resources and Services Administration announced $3,147,317 in funding to Utah through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting – or MIECHV – Program. These funds will allow Utah to continue to provide voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children up to kindergarten entry.

“Evidence-based home visiting programs help children get off to a better, healthier start,” HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D., said in a media statement. “Today’s awards allow states to support local agencies in providing home visiting services that meet the needs of families in their own communities.”

The MIECHV Program serves almost 42 percent of U.S. counties with high rates of low birth weight infants, teen births, families living in poverty or infant mortality. In Utah, Washington County is among nine counties to have been served by the program in fiscal year 2016. Other counties include Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Morgan, Rich, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber.

Administered by HRSA in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.

More than 3.3 million home visits have been conducted through the program, serving parents and children in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. Three-fourths of families participating in the program had household incomes at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

According to the HRSA Utah Home Visiting Program snapshot, in fiscal year 2016, home visitors in Utah made 11,937 visits to 2,005 parents and children in 1,184 families and reported that 100 percent of mothers who were identified as needing service received a referral to community resources within 6 months of delivery.

“The MIECHV Program helps parents and caregivers connect with services and resources and improve the skills they need to support their families’ well-being and provide the best opportunities for their children,” said HRSA Associate Administrator for Maternal and Child Health Michael Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. Lu added:

In these voluntary programs, trained nurses, social workers, early childhood educators or other trained professionals meet regularly with expectant parents or families with young children in their homes, building strong, positive relationships with families who want and need support.

According to the Utah snapshot, research has shown that these visits, when conducted in pregnancy or the early years of life, can improve maternal and child health, prevent child abuse and neglect, increase positive parenting and enhance child development and school readiness

Funded through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 through fiscal year 2017, the MIECHV Program is also addressing Health and Human Services’ clinical priorities such as the opioid crisis, serious mental illness and childhood obesity. Nationwide, $342 million in funding was awarded to 55 states, territories and nonprofit organizations.

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