Parents want to do what’s best for their children, but unfortunately, not all of them have the resources or skills to do so. Home visiting programs such as the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) can enable parents to be the best teachers they can be for their kids. Not only can the program help them, but it can help their children succeed.
Home visiting programs match at-risk families with trained community members to support child literacy and teach parenting skills. These programs have proven to lower infant mortality, increase economic stability of families and improve health and wellness. Despite its success, Congress let MIECHV expire on September 30, 2017. While programs continue to run, it is getting more and more difficult to keep up as funding runs out.
For so many, this service has been a life-changing experience for the entire family. Below are some first-hand accounts from families who share the positive change that comes from home visiting programs.
Amber joined a home visiting program in West Virginia in 2013. According to Amber, “When our coordinator first started visiting our home I didn’t realize, as a mother, I could make a difference in my child’s early childhood development. [The coordinator] is always telling me I am my child’s first teacher and it’s true. Through home visiting, I have learned to recognize what to use to encourage early learning with simple activities and how to work them into my daily routine.”
Amber also mentioned that her family did not have many books in the home prior to the program, but now her children love to read and she sees the benefit of reading to them as well.
“I want my children to be ready for school,” she said. “I want them to be able to learn all they can.”
Jesse and Breanne
Jesse and Breanne’s son was 2, and had yet to say his first word. But when his family joined a home visiting program in Colorado, he made significant improvements in his communication skills and grew passionate about reading.
“He runs around shouting ‘books, books!’ because he knows that they will always bring him a new story book,” said Breanne.
Their 5-month-old daughter also benefits from the program. “We do the activities on the back of the books,” said Breanne. “She’s doing very well, hitting all her milestones. She’s just starting to roll over.”
Porshia and Sharon
Porshia (left) and her mother, Sharon (right) live in Mississippi and have seen the effect home visiting has had on both of Porshia’s children. Her 1-year-old daughter has an early love for books and learning, and her 8-year-old daughter can now read in full sentences.
“I learned to read more and the more they read, the more they learn,” said Porshia.
For Sharon, the program has also inspired newfound confidence and excitement in her 8-year-old granddaughter. “She loves school now, whereas before we had to drag her out of bed every morning,” she said. “She has made a major turnaround. I can see the difference with the extra help and the books coming in. It’s all coming together.”
Jalyssa and her family have regular visits with a home visiting program coordinator in California. According to Jalyssa, the program has inspired more self-assurance in both her and her children.
“I want to do the best I can for my kids,” she said. “[The coordinator] has helped me a lot. She started making home visits when our youngest, Jayla, was a baby. Every day, I see how everything I’ve learned is helping our girls. My experience with home visiting also helped me build confidence to go back to school and pursue a career as a medical assistant.”
Jalyssa also noted how important it is to be involved with your children’s education. “I go to all the open houses. My husband and I like to see the things they’re learning and ask how they’re doing,” she stated. “I think it shows the teacher, or even the principal, that the parent is interested in the children’s education. It also shows our kids we want them to succeed. We can plan for a brighter future and it starts with education.”
Home visiting works. Stand up for families across America who could benefit from this service!