$1.45 million in public-private funds awarded to 10 home visiting programs throughout state
SEATTLE — The families of more than 300 babies in some of the state’s most at-risk communities will now get the support they need to give their children a great start in life thanks to a recent round of awards from the state’s Home Visiting Services Account (HVSA). The 10 home visiting programs that serve these families will share $1,453,000 in grants over the next year. For many of the programs, the grants will help them keep the doors open and continue to serve families in their area.
“Over the past five years, our program has made a difference in the lives of more than 200 families,” said Beth Hansen, executive director of St. James Family Center in Wahkiakum, one of the new grantees. “For many of the families we serve, we are their primary support system, and this grant means we don’t have to cut our services. We know other programs aren’t so lucky right now and are either serving fewer families or closing their program altogether.”
Home visiting is a voluntary service in which nurses or other trained professionals meet with at-risk families in their homes and offer information and support related to healthy child and family development. Depending on the program, these visits can happen during pregnancy up to a child’s fifth birthday. Evidence shows that when families receive this kind of support, their children are born healthier, are less likely to suffer from abuse or neglect and are better prepared for school. In fact, the entire family benefits.
“The Home Visiting Services Account provides money to support home visiting programs, though what we’re really doing is investing in families,” said Nina Auerbach, president and CEO of Thrive by Five Washington, the state’s public-private partnership for early learning that administers the account. “The arrival of a new baby is a time of joy and transition for every family, but some families need extra support to thrive. In this round of funding, most of the grants will help a number of programs maintain their services, but the account has also helped expand or start high-quality and effective home visiting programs in communities where the need is high.”
Since it was created by the Washington state Legislature in 2010, the HVSA has become a national model for leveraging public and private funds to support home visiting programs and has helped Washington invest 10 times more than it did in home visiting just two years ago. As of July 1, the HVSA has awarded nearly $4 million in grants to 31 evidence-based, research-based and promising home visiting programs serving about 1,000 families in 13 Washington counties. HVSA grantees represent a range of programs that meet the needs of populations across the state, including diverse geographic, racial/ethnic and other demographic groups. While most of the account’s funds support direct services to families, some funds also are used for training, quality implementation and evaluation to ensure programs get the outcomes they promise to deliver for children and families.
Recent account investments include $1 million in continued state support; two competitive, multi-year federal grants totaling nearly $27 million; and a 5-year, $7.5 million commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Washington state Department of Early Learning (DEL) oversees the account, and Thrive administers it. DEL and Thrive also consult with the Department of Health and Department of Social and Health Services on how to serve families around our state.
“Home visiting is an important program for Washington children and families,” said Bette Hyde, director of the state Department of Early Learning. “Evidence shows that families who receive home-based support are less likely to suffer abuse and neglect. Home visiting offers a strong return on investment in the prevention of abuse and educating families in good care of their children.”
Making home visiting available to at-risk families is a key strategy in Washington’s 10-year Early Learning Plan. Right now, only a small percentage of eligible families are able to receive evidence-based home visiting services.
Grant awards are as follows:
- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Yakima – The Parents as Teachers program receives $105,160 to provide services to the families of 50 children.
- Denise Louie Education Center – The Early Head Start program receives $175,000 to provide services to the families of 20 children in King County.
- Jefferson County Public Health – The Nurse-Family Partnership program receives $175,000 to provide services to the families of 50 children.
- Mid-Columbia Children’s Council – The Early Head Start program receives $173,317.50 to provide services to the families of 18 children in Klickitat County.
- St. James Family Center – The Parents as Teachers program receives $71,335 to provide services to the families of 40 children in Wahkiakum County.
- Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department – The Nurse-Family Partnership program receives $145,686.50 to provide services to the families of 25 children in Pierce County.
- Thurston County Public Health and Social Services – The Nurse-Family Partnership program receives $102,500 to provide services to the families of 22 children in Thurston County.
- Whatcom County Health Department – The Nurse-Family Partnership program receives $175,000 to provide services to the families of 25 children.
- Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital Association – The Nurse-Family Partnership program receives $175,000 to provide services to the families of 33 children.
- Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic – The Parents as Teachers program receives $155,000 to provide services to the families of 50 children in Yakima County.
On Thursday, June 28, Thrive by Five Washington released a Request for Proposals to support research-based models and promising practices home visiting models only. Grantees for this round of funding will be announced in early September.