Welcoming a new bundle of joy into the world is often a beautiful and rewarding milestone in life, but for many new or disadvantaged parents, it can also be a challenge full of uncertainty and doubt. Fortunately, the Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Visiting (MIECHV) program can offer support and help break the cycles of abuse, generational trauma, poverty, and more by connecting families with useful resources to aid them as they navigate parenthood.
For the month of July here at the Stop Abuse Campaign, we’ve been discussing programs like the MIECHV in our Maternal Home Visiting (MHV) series of blogs. We’ve provided a detailed overview of the program and talked about how it helps mothers with substance abuse issues. Now, we’ll take a more in-depth look at maternal home visiting results. Why do programs like these work?
MIECHV program facts
First, let’s explore some MIECHV program facts. The MIECHV program aims to provide at-risk families with the support they need to give their children a bright start in life. A trained professional—often a nurse, social worker, or child development specialist—conducts home visits periodically throughout pregnancy and the first five years of the child’s life, connecting participants with prenatal care, advice, and support throughout their journeys and ensuring that each child has a chance at a healthy future. The service is free and voluntary, and participants can opt out at any time.
To sign up for home visiting, families can consult with their doctor or visit their state’s government website for more information.
Benefits and advantages of home visits
Home visiting programs can significantly improve outcomes for teen, single, or low-income parents. These demographics face a greater risk of maternal depression due to financial hardship, lack of support, and societal prejudice, which can in turn adversely affect infant or child health. In fact, having a parent who struggles with mental illness is an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). ACEs are childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect that can cause lasting trauma.
Mothers who are part of a minority group, especially those from the Black community, have historically faced racist systems and practices resulting in worse maternal and child health outcomes than their white peers. Participation in home visiting programs can help mitigate these disparities and ensure that both the parent and the child have the care they need.
The benefits to the child are numerous, too. When parents—especially first-time parents—have access to helpful resources like those that home visiting programs provide, their children flourish physically, mentally, and socially, with a lower risk of suffering child abuse and neglect.
Maternal home visiting results, therefore, point to a decrease in ACEs overall.
MIECHV home visitor satisfaction survey
In fiscal year 2020, the MIECHV program supported an impressive 140,000 families and aims to expand access to even more families. But what are the satisfaction rates amongst participants?
Although not very much research has been conducted on satisfaction rates yet, a South Carolina study of 271 MIECHV caregivers found that 88.6% of participants gave the program a rating of 10/10, and 95.2% said that they would definitely recommend home visiting services to others. These overwhelmingly positive Maternal Home Visiting results highlight the program’s successful track record. The satisfaction rates were predominantly positive, with only some families reporting difficulty scheduling visits and too much paperwork.
MIECHV Maternal Home Visiting short-term and long-term results
The MIECHV program has a slew of proven short-term and long-term benefits.
Home visits happen from pregnancy until a child reaches kindergarten age, or around age five. These first five years of life are crucial to a child’s physical and mental development, so early intervention is key.
In terms of short-term Maternal Home Visiting results, the programs can significantly decrease a child’s risk of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by lowering the chances of CPS involvement and hospital visits.
The fewer ACEs a child has, the lower their chance of suffering ongoing childhood trauma into adulthood. This is one of the MIECHV program’s long-term benefits. Children whose parents enrolled in a home visiting program are also better equipped for school and less likely to engage in criminal activity in the future.
Objectives and goals of home visiting
As a reminder, home visiting programs exist to ensure good child health by providing parents with helpful, evidence-based resources during both pregnancy and early childhood. According to HRSA Maternal & Child Health, the objectives of the MIECHV program include:
- Improving maternal and child health,
- Preventing child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence,
- Reducing crime,
- Increasing family education level and earning potential,
- Connect families to resources and support, and
- Promoting childhood development and school readiness.
Evidence-based home visitation MIECHV effectiveness
How do we really know that the MIECHV is effective?
According to the Centre for Public Impact, the MIECHV program places an unprecedented focus on evidence and evaluation. These programs use methods based on research that have proven effective; in fact, Advanced Metrics notes that the MIECHV program “emphasizes that 75% of the federal funding must go to evidence-based home visiting models, meaning that funding must go to programs that have been verified as having a strong research basis.”
Studies like the Maternal and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE) conduct ongoing and in-depth research to determine if and how families and children benefit from these programs and if any changes need to be implemented.
Home visiting programs have proven effective in ensuring positive outcomes for children and their families, but the programs’ success is dependent upon family attendance. Unfortunately, of course, some families report difficulty scheduling visits due to scheduling conflicts. Canceled visits may mean that families could miss out on important resources, so it is vital for these programs to stay flexible.
Help us reauthorize MIECHV maternal home visiting programs
The MIECHV program must be reauthorized every five years and is currently set to expire in September 2022.
The Home Visiting Coalition is pushing to scale up the program over the next five years to arrive at a total of $1.4 billion in funding by fiscal year 2027, which would help reach more families and benefit more children. Tribal funds would also be doubled, providing more support for American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and virtual home visiting would continue being offered.
So, what can we do to help the program reach this funding goal and continue to help families and children?
- Share this article. One way is to share this article with friends and raise awareness of the invaluable benefits this program brings to parents and children.
- Sign the petition. By signing our petition, you can help us support the reauthorization of the MIECHV to ensure that this important resource can continue benefiting families who need it.
- Stay updated and #BreakTheCycleofAbuse. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive more information about this topic and more on how we can all help at-risk children by breaking the cycle of abuse.
We have the power to bring about change. So, let’s invest in our children’s futures and give them the tools they need to lead happy and healthy lives.
Let’s help break the cycle and stop abuse.
Saylah is a Crisis Text Line counselor and mental health advocate who aspires to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Her biggest goal is to help as many people as possible find hope and healing in their lives.