Childhood Begins at Home campaign supports safety of Washington, Greene families

Child advocates, including Blueprints CEO Darlene J. Bigler, Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, and Pittsburgh neonatologist Dr. Robert Cicco, met Thursday to discuss a campaign promoting evidence-based home visiting programs and to champion an increase in the 2018-19 state budget to expand home visiting programs to additional Pennsylvania programs.

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.

In Washington and Greene counties, families can benefit from home visiting programs that have been proven to improve maternal and child health, literacy and economic security, and reduce child abuse and neglect, said Bigler.

However, according to findings released by the Childhood Begins at Home Campaign, only one percent of Washington and Greene County children younger than 6, known to the child welfare system, received appropriate evidence-based home visiting services to reduce the likelihood of future child abuse and neglect last year.

Only one percent of Washington and Greene County babies born on Medicaid received the appropriate evidence-based home visiting services following their birth last year.

And only five percent of children living in low-income families and just 51 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 advocating for a $6.5 million increase in the state budget to expand evidence-based home visiting to an additional 800 families, and to provide funds to improve staff training.

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The coalition is working to build successful families in Montour and Columbia Counties,  joining leaders for an event at the Danville Childhood Development Center.

Those in attendance were: Angela Mattis, Montour County District Attorney; Ashley Mensch, director, Columbia County Family Center; Allison Shay, parent educator, Parents as Teachers; a mother benefiting from voluntary home visits and Kari King, president and CEO, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

Childhood Begins at Home held an event in March to highlight the need for more evidence-based home visiting in Montgomery County.

Those who participated included:

  • Nadine Miller, deputy administrator, Resource Division, Office of Children and Youth, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Kevin Steele, Montgomery County District Attorney;
  • Rosemarie Halt, senior director of policy, Maternity Care Coalition;
  • A mother benefiting from voluntary home visits; and
  • Kari King, president and CEO, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

Family support advocates joined together at the Kingsley Center to discuss the need for evidence-based home visiting in Allegheny County.

The event included:

  • Marc Cherna, director of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services;
  • Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department;
  • Cara Ciminillo, executive director of Trying Together;
  • Local families benefiting from voluntary home visits; and
  • Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

Lycoming County First Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade, joined with the Nurse-Family Partnership and other statewide and regional partners for a press conference at UPMC Susquehanna in Williamsport, to discuss evidence-based home visiting and the Childhood Begins at Home campaign’s efforts to ensure more state funding for the programs in Lycoming County.