The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $7.5 million in funding to the Ohio Department of Health to support the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program on Friday.
Also known as the Federal Home Visiting Program, this is part of President Obama’s Early Learning Initiative, which is controlled by HRSA.
According to an HSRA press release, the Federal Home Visiting Program serves almost 40 percent of U.S. counties with high rates of low birth weight infants, infant mortality, teen births and families living in poverty. Nearly 80 percent of families participating in the program had household incomes at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level when they entered the program.
Ohio has one of the highest rates of infant mortality. In 2014, Ohio’s infant mortality rate was 7.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The national rate of infant mortality in 2013 was 6.05 per 1,000 live births, based on a measure of infant mortality as deaths of live-born babies before their first birthdays.
Most infant deaths occur because of preterm birth, a birth defect, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), maternal complications or as a result of injuries, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
“The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced approximately $7,552,896 in funding to Ohio to support the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (Federal Home Visiting Program). Nationally, $345 million in funding was awarded to 55 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations,” said Samantha Miller from the HSRA Office of Communications.
On average, a state, territory or non-profit organization receives about $6.3 million in funding per year, according to the HRSA programs.
The Ohio Department of Health works with local agencies to provide home visiting services to Ohio families. Funding for the program also allows an expansion in voluntary home visiting services to pregnant women and to parents with children of kindergarten age or younger.
“The Federal Home Visiting Program helps parents connect with services and resources and improve the skills they need ensure their children are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn,” said Michael Lu, HRSA associate administrator for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
According to the HRSA, family and home visits work together to improve health development, prevent child neglect and injuries, improve school readiness, reduce crime, improve family economic self-sufficiency and improve the coordination for other community resources and support. Models are proven to improve child health and to be cost effective.