Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced increased funding for evidence-based home visiting programs in communities affected by the opioid epidemic included in Governor Tom Wolf’s 2018-2019 budget. The Department of Human Services currently supports four evidence based home visiting programs: Early Head Start, Healthy Families America, Nurse Family Partnership Program (NFP), and Parents as Teachers (PAT).

“We all think parenting should be instinctual and that we all naturally have the tools we need to raise a child, but parenting is a tough job and kids don’t come with a manual,” said Secretary Miller. “Early childhood and prenatal home visiting programs provide families with the support and services they need to bond with and understand their child as they grow and monitor progress in meeting developmental milestones.”

Evidence-based home visiting family support programs have a family-centered focus and strength-based approach that works with both the child and parent. Studies of various nurse-family partnership programs have shown positive impacts for the mother and baby during pregnancy and after birth, such as a decrease in domestic violence and smoking during pregnancy, a significant decrease in pre-term births, and a majority of babies being born at a healthy weight.

Home visiting can also improve parents’ child development knowledge and skills, help develop social support systems, and improve access to education, health, and community services. Examples of services include:

  • Regularly scheduled home visits with trained family development specialists;
  • Monthly parent meetings; and
  • Routine screenings to detect potential problems with vision, hearing, growth, and learning.

Governor Wolf has increased the state investment in home visiting by nearly $15 million during his tenure. A total of $51.9 million is allocated in the 2018-2019 budget through a combination of state and federal funding.

This allocation includes $4 million to support targeted expansion of evidence-based Home Visiting in areas hit hardest by the opioid epidemic with a focus on families with a parent with opioid use disorder (OUD). This funding will serve approximately 1,000 families around Pennsylvania.

“Historically, our focus has been on ensuring people suffering from the disease of addiction are receiving the necessary services and supports to assist in their recovery, but we need to think about the impact of addiction on their families and help meet the entire family’s needs,” said Secretary Miller. “Addiction affects people in different ways, and utilizing these services and supports can help families and children cope with emotional and developmental challenges that may arise because of their family’s experience.”

Twenty organizations were awarded funding to expand home visiting services in their communities:

  • Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Carson Valley Children’s Aid/Norristown Family Center
  • Chester County Department of Human Services/Coatesville Family Center
  • Children’s Advocacy Center of Lawrence County
  • Columbia County Family Center
  • Community Prevention Partnership
  • Erie Family Center
  • Family Services of Montgomery Count/Pottstown Family Center
  • Fulton County Family Partnership/Fulton County Family Center
  • Greater Nanticoke Area Family Center
  • Greene County Human Services
  • Jefferson-Clarion Head Start, Inc.
  • Maternity Care Coalition
  • Mercer County Family Centers (Mercer, Sharon, Farrell)
  • Monessen Family Center
  • Outreach-Center for Community Resources/Scranton Family Center
  • Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health
  • Salisbury Area Family Center/Somerset County Family Center
  • Snyder Union Mifflin Child Development, Inc.
  • The Foundation for Delaware County Nurse-Family Partnership

The 2018-2019 budget also included $500,000 for cross systems training to support safe plans of care for substance-exposed newborns, supporting children and youth caseworkers, evidence-based home visiting, Early Intervention services, birthing hospitals, treatment facilities, and other community partners for families affected by substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic.

For more information on home visiting programs, visit the Home Visiting/Family Center page.

 MEDIA CONTACT: Colin Day, 717-425-7606