Monday, June 15, 2009

News: Education Begins At Home Hearing

The Children's Monitor Online, an e-newsletter from CWLA (and a great source of info on action at the federal level - subscribe here) reports that the House held a hearing on the Education Begins At Home Act...

Key Committee Hearing on Home Visiting

On Tuesday, June 9, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support held a hearing on proposals to provide federal funding for early childhood home visitation programs. The focus was largely placed on how to produce the best practical, cost-effective home visiting programs. Chairman Jim McDermott (D-WA) began the hearing by bringing attention to the startling fact that less than 15% of families in need of home visitation actually receive services. He also indicated the possibility of the legislation, the Early Support for Families Act, HR 2667, moving as part of health care reform.

The hearing included many expert witnesses. The first witness, Joan Sharp, Executive Director of the Council for Children and Families of Washington in Seattle, echoed the appropriateness of thinking about home visiting in the context of health care reform, as there are many negative health outcomes for children who are victims of child abuse and neglect. Dr. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, a developmental psychologist, centered her testimony on the outcomes that should be associated with any form of intervention, strategies for enhancing the lives of children and their families, the factors that determine the effectiveness of a given program, and how to best invest in home visiting. Cheryl D'Aprix, a Family Support Worker with the Starting Together Program in Canastota, New York, described her experience with home visiting as both a participant and a home visitor, and expressed the life changing possibilities of home visiting. Finally, Sharon Sprinkle, a Nurse Consultant with the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) shared her success with the NFP model and asked that Congress look closely at this program as a way to improve the lives of low-income, vulnerable families. For a complete copy of the testimonies from the hearing, visit the Ways and Means Committee website.

A number of themes dominated the hearing, including the cost for this new initiative and how to meet it, as well as determining how to reach the most vulnerable families, finding approaches for including fathers, and understanding that no one program will reach all families because different families have different needs. CWLA has endorsed HR 2667 and will continue to work with Congress to refine and to pass this initiative.

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