March 3, 2015 (Denver) – The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has received an award of $9.9 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand efforts of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV).
MIECHV is a voluntary program that helps children and strengthens their families through home visits with women during pregnancy and new parents with young children.
“This is a huge step forward in helping us ensure Colorado’s children and families are safe and healthy. With this grant we will be able to grow our MIECHV programming and services by 60 percent,” said Mary Anne Snyder, director, Office of Early Childhood. “We are extremely grateful for this funding because it allows us to continue the work of CDHS and our community partners to help improve outcomes for two generations of Coloradans.”
MIECHV supports families living in communities with elevated rates of poverty, premature births, low-birth-weight infants, infant mortality, crime, domestic violence, low educational attainment, substance abuse, unemployment and child maltreatment. Research shows that home visits by a nurse, social worker and/or early childhood educator during pregnancy and in the first years of life lead to healthy outcomes for children by improving maternal and child health, preventing child abuse and neglect and preparing children for kindergarten.
Data for Colorado’s MIECHV program shows improvement for participants in 26 areas, including prenatal and postpartum care for mothers, parent knowledge of child development and positive parenting practices, and increases in the mother's income, educational attainment and health insurance status. Participants in the program also demonstrated decreases in rates of maternal tobacco use, child injuries, and suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.
In Colorado, the program currently serves 2,300 families in Adams, Alamosa, Costilla, Crowley, Denver, Mesa, Morgan, Pueblo, Otero and Saguache counties. This increased support will allow the Department and its partners to serve an additional 1,400 families in those counties. The new funding also will be used to develop additional training and professional development opportunities for home visitors and increase their capacity to assist families experiencing mental health challenges.
Colorado’s home visiting program is a public-private partnership that relies on strong support from four community partners: Healthy Steps, Parents as Teachers, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, and Nurse Family Partnership. The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment also supports the program with evaluation, data collection and other technical assistance.