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New Competitive Grant Enables State To Extend Services Through 2017, Add 500 Service Slots In High Need Communities

For Immediate Release
March 3, 2015
Ernest Landante, Jr. (DCF)

Donna Leusner (DOH)
TRENTON - The Christie Administration has secured nearly $11.5 million in federal grant funds to support home visitation services to help at risk families with an array of health and social services, the commissioners of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) announced today.

A total of $11.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will support the continuation and expansion of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program in New Jersey.

"The program connects vulnerable families of infants and young children to valuable resources to help them raise healthy and successful children," said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.  "The earliest years of a child's life are among the most important, and the home visitation program is a proven means of making sure children receive the services they need at this stage of their young lives."

The federal MIECHV program has supported evidence-based home visiting services since 2010.  In New Jersey, collaboration between the DOH and DCF ensures coordination for health and social services and adds strength to our work with families and communities.  New Jersey's home visiting program serves pregnant women and families with children from birth to age five; and focuses on families with the greatest needs-low income, teen parents, at-risk neighborhoods, history of child abuse or neglect, or other factors that can jeopardize the health and safety of young children.

The initial competition for MIECHV funding in 2012 enabled New Jersey to extend services to all 21 counties and double capacity - now at 6,400 families.  This new competitive grant will enable the state to extend services through 2017 and add 500 additional service slots in high need communities.

"The New Jersey Home Visiting Program pairs new and expectant parents with trained nurses, social workers, or early childhood educators to provide the tools they need to improve maternal and child health outcomes, to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to increase school readiness," said Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd.  "Home visiting has life-changing effects on families and is a wise investment."

New Jersey's evidence-based home visiting models are voluntary programs.  Three core models - Healthy Families, Nurse-Family Partnership and Parents As Teachers - are available in every county and services begin at pregnancy and birth.  MIECHV funds also support the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program in Bergen County that serves families with preschool children. 

This grant funding will allow New Jersey to continue to provide its home visitation programs for pregnant women and parents of young children from pregnancy to age five.  These proven programs address issues that include maternal and newborn health; child neglect and maltreatment; and school readiness.  Home visitors provide prenatal/parent education and support, and conduct routine health screening and risk assessment to promote earlier identification of delays and linkages to supportive services.  They also promote family well-being and economic self-sufficiency; and work closely with community partners to ensure coordination of community resources and supports.

Home Visiting builds upon decades of research, which shows that home visits during pregnancy and in the first years of life improves child and family outcomes.  These evidence-based models have been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect, encourage positive parenting, and promote child development and school readiness-saving public resources over the long term.

Currently, DCF funds 66 evidence-based home visiting programs across New Jersey.

DCF is dedicated to ensuring a better today and an even greater tomorrow for every individual the department serves.  In partnership with New Jersey's communities, DCF ensures the safety, well-being, and success of New Jersey's children and families.  DCF funds and directly provides services and support to over 90,000 women, children and families each month.

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