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Congress asked to renew support for new parents

Home-visiting programs for struggling families were pioneered in Colorado. Now, the Colorado Children’s Campaign is among 14 state organizations – and 750 nationwide – asking that federal funding for these programs continue.

DENVER – The clock is ticking on federal funding that helps struggling parents with young children. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program expires in March, unless Congress takes action.

A coalition of 750 organizations, including 14 in Colorado, has sent a letter asking that the program continue as it has for decades. Bill Jaeger, vice president of early-childhood initiatives with the Colorado Children’s Campaign, says home visits prevent serious problems and learning deficits.

“This funding is vital to several programs we have here in Colorado that support some of our most vulnerable children and families,” he says. “We know parents who receive high-quality, prenatal care and support have much better birth outcomes.”

According to a report by the RAND Corporation, home-visiting programs saved between $2 and $6 in future social services per dollar invested.

Colorado was the first state to initiate the Nurse-Family Partnership, in which nurses visit the homes of at-risk families. It’s now used throughout the country. As a result, Jaeger says there’s been a 50 percent reduction in domestic violence, 90 percent immunization rate by a child’s second birthday and a 32 percent reduction in mothers’ alcohol use during pregnancy.

“Just think of all the dollars we’re paying – from a very, kind of base, practical stewardship of taxpayer dollars – when families experience those risk factors,” Jaeger says. “If we can head some of those off with a high-quality, home-visitation program in the early years, we’re all better off.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevent Child Abuse America and Salvation Army are among the national organizations that signed the letter. Funding nationally has been at about $400 million a year.

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