LANCASTER, Pa. (April 12, 2018) – Child advocates, including Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children president and CEO Joan Benso, and Mary Steffy of the Nurse-Family Partnership, today launched the Childhood Begins at Home campaign at the Women and Babies Hospital in Lancaster. The campaign, which supports the development and safety of Pennsylvania children and families through evidence-based home visiting programs, released county findings that are truly sobering:
- Only 58 percent of Lancaster County children under age 6 known to the child welfare system received the appropriate evidenced-based home visiting services to reduce the likelihood of future child abuse and neglect last year.
- Only 13 percent of Lancaster County babies born on Medicaid received the appropriate evidenced-based home visiting services following their birth last year.
- In addition to the too few children known to the child welfare system or born on Medicaid who missed the opportunity to benefit from evidence-based home visiting services, many other children and families also missed this important opportunity. Only 2 percent of children living in low-income families and only 7 percent of children born to a mother without a high school diploma received evidence-based home visiting proven to improve family economic security and early literacy.
Childhood Begins at Home is designed to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting and effective ways to support young families. Campaign partners are encouraging state and federal lawmakers to continue to build on the strong investments they have made in evidence-based home visiting and to increase the investment to help more Pennsylvania children and families. Those partners are: Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Maternity Care Coalition, Pennsylvania Head Start Association, Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership, Pennsylvania Parents as Teachers, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, and Trying Together.
“As law enforcement officials, my colleagues and I are certainly tough on crime, but we also know that we can’t arrest and prosecute our way out of the crime problem. We need to be proactive and help at-risk families and young children with proven supports,” said Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman. “Much of what law enforcement leaders deal with every day can be traced to inadequate parenting and home lives. I’m certainly not making excuses for those who commit crimes, but these are certainly factors that lead to poor choices with consequences that can forever change their lives and the lives of their victims and loved ones.”
There are presently four evidence-based models currently using about $50 million in state and federal funds to provide home visiting services in Pennsylvania: Early Head Start, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers.
Home visiting programs recognize parents are children’s first teachers, but sometimes even parents need help. Nurses and other trained professionals visit with women, families and children as early as the beginning of pregnancy to promote positive birth outcomes and provide parent education and support, ultimately promoting child health, well-being, learning and development.
“The research is clear: Home visiting services can reap strong rewards, and that’s why we must increase public funding to support these programs,” said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “Ask anyone who has ever been a parent and you will hear that parenting is the most rewarding, but also the most challenging job he or she ever had. Many parents benefit from strong family supports and adequate resources. However, for some parents, especially those who are young and of modest means, parenthood is more complicated. Home visiting helps by reducing child abuse and neglect and improving family health, education and economic security.”
“From identifying postpartum depression to helping deal with substance use disorders, these programs empower families to make proactive, positive choices that prove beneficial to healthy development,” said Mary Lee Steffy, manager of community health and wellness at Nurse-Family Partnership. “The good news is that evidence-based home visiting programs can positively impact the lives of these young families, building confidence and imparting them with the tools necessary to overcome many challenges so they can successfully raise their children.”
The goal of the Childhood Begins at Home campaign this year is to increase understanding among policymakers and the public to garner support for a $6.5 million increase in the 2018-2019 state budget. These evidence-based programs will provide tools and resources to families raising young children. The programs are intended to provide educational resources and tools to improve health care and literacy, promote self-sufficiency, and prevent child abuse. The budget increase would expand these services to reach an additional 800 families and fund training for professionals to better serve these families.
About Childhood Begins at Home
Childhood Begins at Home is a statewide campaign designed to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting as an effective way to support parents. Partners include Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Maternity Care Coalition, Pennsylvania Head Start Association, Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership, Pennsylvania Parents as Teachers, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, and Trying Together.
About Nurse-Family Partnership
NFP pairs first-time, low-income pregnant women with nurses to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes, child health and development, and family economic self-sufficiency.
Carolyn Myers, PA Partnerships for Children
Jill Helsel Gingrich, La Torre Communications