Honoring our Home Visiting Champions

Note: This post originally appeared on the Prevent Child Abuse America website.

At Prevent Child Abuse America, we know the value that home visiting programs can bring to families and communities. Our signature program, Healthy Families America, has been providing voluntary, evidence-based services that are proven to result in better futures for families and brighter starts children for 25 years. Last week, we honored four people who also know how valuable these programs are and have been fighting for them in Washington D.C.

At our Congressional Champions Reception, leaders of Healthy Families America and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) presented awards to two senators and two representatives who have taken the fight for home visiting to heart.

Honoring Home Visiting Champions in Washington D.C.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has been a consistent voice for the importance of funding sources for home visiting such as the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, or MIECHV. Senator Wyden has previously visited HFA programs in Salem, OR in order to see the work and results of home visiting firsthand.

Sen. Wyden visits with staff at a HFA site in Salem, OR.

Sen. Wyden visits with staff at a HFA site in Salem, OR.

Senator Wyden previously praised MIECHV by saying “The evidence we’ve seen is that for at-risk moms, it’s something that works. That, to me, is something we ought to build around and expand.” For his efforts on behalf of MIECHV, Senator Wyden received the Champion Award.

On the other side of the Senate aisle, Senator John Boozman (R-AR) was awarded for his support of home visiting programs. Sen. Boozman has co-sponsored key legislation that will extend MIECHV for five years, ensuring direct service sites have the stable funding they need to serve families without fear of closing down.

Home visiting model leaders meet with Senator Boozman at his office in Washington, D.C.

Home visiting model leaders meet with Senator Boozman at his office in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Boozman’s leadership is critical in encouraging other members of his party in the Senate to support home visiting legislation such as Senate Bill 1829. We were proud to honor Sen. Boozman for his leadership on behalf of MIECHV.

Sen. Boozman with HIPPY Executive Director Stacy Croom-Raley

Sen. Boozman with HIPPY Executive Director Stacy Croom-Raley

But it’s not only Senators who are fighting on behalf of home visiting initiatives. In the U.S. House of Representative, Democrat and Republicans are working together to secure a future for home visiting programs.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) was honored for his fighting spirit and tireless efforts to expand MIECHV coverage so that all families who need home visiting services are able to get them. When introducing him, Jessica Nugent, the Director of Home Visiting and Community Initiatives at Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, honored Rep. Pascrell by saying “He spoke up for New Jersey and countless children and families from communities across the country who would be negatively impacted by a loss in valuable home visiting services.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell (right) congratulated on his award by his colleague Rep. Buddy Carter (left)

Rep. Bill Pascrell (right) congratulated on his award by his colleague Rep. Buddy Carter (left)

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) received his Champion award for going above and beyond in his efforts to learn about home visiting. Rep. Carter went on two separate visits to HFA sites in Georgia in order to see home visiting programs in action and to hear from the parents themselves on how home visiting programs have changed their lives.

Rep. Buddy Carter visiting with families and staff at Healthy Families Coastal Georgia

Rep. Buddy Carter visiting with families and staff at Healthy Families Coastal Georgia

While visiting families in Georgia, Rep. Carter remarked that “It’s good to see the value in prevention and early investing…Sometimes it’s hard for us (in government) because sometimes (programs like these) are the first place we start with cuts, which costs us down the road…home visiting is the perfect example for seeing what we invest in pays off.” For his willingness to learn about prevention and his support for strengthening families with home visiting, Rep. Carter is a true home visiting champion.

Rep. Carter (middle) alongside Prevent Child Abuse America CEO Dan Duffy (left) and HIPPY Executive Director Stacy Croom-Raley

Rep. Carter (middle) alongside Prevent Child Abuse America CEO Dan Duffy (left) and HIPPY Executive Director Stacy Croom-Raley

This Congressional Reception was a very energizing event and it was wonderful to see a room full of home visiting supporters. But the work isn’t over yet! MIECHV expired on September 30, and in order to prevent the elimination of funding for critical home visiting programs, we need advocates like you to keep the pressure on Congress!

You can help by calling your Senators and Representatives and telling them you:

  1. Support MIECHV and request that it be added to any CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) or included on the earliest moving bipartisan legislative vehicle as soon as possible, including health extenders legislative package or future disaster relief package.
  2. Support the bipartisan legislation S. 1829 and request Majority Leader McConnell, Senator Hatch and Senator Wyden make the legislation available for hotline and unanimous consent.

For more information on how you can help, including talking points and facts and stats, please visit the Home Visiting Coalition.

Success Story Spotlight: Meet Sarah

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Kids do not come with an instruction manual, and every now and then parents need a little help learning how to deal with the challenges that come with parenthood. Healthy Families America helps strengthen thousands of families nationwide every year, giving parents the tools and resources they need to create healthy, nurturing environments for their kids. 

We have seen countless success stories from our work with children and their parents.  Our programs have helped promote healthy child development, allowed families to become more self-sufficient, and given parents the confidence and support to be the best parents they can be.

One such story is that of Sarah:

“When my fiancé and I first found out we were expecting, we were excited but were also a little nervous and scared, since parenting is such a huge responsibility.  We first heard about Healthy Families America while we were in the hospital.  We were a little skeptical at first, but realized we could use all of the help we could get. 

My fiancé and I didn’t have a very good background growing up.  I wanted a different relationship with my daughter than the one my parents had with me.

In those first few visits, Dawn (our family specialist) helped us think about what our wishes were for Kaylynn and we were able to think about the values that are important to us as a family.  She provided us with a lot of support and encouragement.  We didn’t really have a lot of that, so to have someone offer us that support and be our cheerleader for the last three years has been a really amazing experience.”

This is just one of many success stories, and we are excited to share more with you in the coming months. Stay tuned!