When parents of young children struggle, the effects can have lifelong impacts on the child. That's the premise behind home visiting programs for families, which depend on funding through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.
The funding is set to expire in March, unless Congress takes action. A coalition of 750 organizations and elected leaders has sent a letter asking that the program continue as it has for decades.
Karen Howard at First Focus Campaign for Children explains the home visiting idea began about 40 years ago and research has shown that voluntary home visits, usually conducted by nurses or social workers, can prevent serious problems and learning deficits.
Howard says, "It is a real effective strategy for, particularly low-income families and women, building up their knowledge base and their self-esteem so that they can be capable parents."
There's also a pay-off. Howard points to a RAND Corporation report that found home visiting programs saved up to around six dollars for every dollar invested.