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Jennifer Garner: A lifeline for poor families

Congress has once again shortchanged kids. Lawmakers finally authorized the Children's Health Insurance Program in a ...

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 1:50 PM
Updated: Feb 1, 2018 1:50 PM

Congress has once again shortchanged kids. Lawmakers finally authorized the Children's Health Insurance Program in a short-term budget deal passed by Congress, but they failed to act on another key program for poor kids -- the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV).

Through my work with Save the Children over the past decade, I've seen how important high-quality home visiting programs are for families.

A while back, I got the opportunity to accompany one of Save the Children's home visitors to the home of a family in the Central Valley of California. The home had something I have sadly come to expect -- silence. I didn't hear a baby babbling or a parent talking. I have seen it too many times before. Poverty dulls the senses and saps hope. It creates silence.

But home visiting programs break that silence. They equip parents with the necessary skills to help their kids grow and develop so they are healthy and ready for school. I've seen children light up when they hold a book or roll a ball for the first time. I've seen mothers breathe a sigh of relief when a home visitor -- who becomes their champion -- knocks on the door.

That's why I'm outraged that Congress has not reauthorized MIECHV, which provides grants to state and local service providers that target the needs of their communities. Despite vocal support from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, partisan politics is getting in the way of thousands of families around the country benefiting from this life-changing voluntary program.

Of the children and families who benefit from the program, 98% show improvement in at least four key areas, ranging from health to school readiness. And with the proper nurturing in these early, formative years, children are better set up for success later in life. In fact, various home visiting programs have been linked to improvements in children's behavior, cognitive development, performance in school, and graduation rates.

In one such program for at-risk toddlers, more than 75% of the children who participated in the program graduated high school -- compared with just over 50% of children who did not participate.

MIECHV is a good financial investment, too. For every dollar used toward MIECHV, there is a potential return of at least $2 through a reduction in remedial education and health care costs, and an increase in self-sufficiency.

The home visitor who joined me at that silent home in California encouraged the mom to interact with her baby. In just a short time, I saw a mom grow more comfortable in talking with her child -- babbling back and forth and rolling a ball. I saw a greater connection form -- one that likely would not have happened without that home visitor's help.

In 2016, these types of connections were created between more than 160,000 parents and children across the country with the help of this federal program. By failing to reauthorize MIECHV, Congress is saying that the program and the people it serves are not a priority. But the benefits are too big to ignore.

I grew up one generation removed from poverty. I knew children in my own school in West Virginia who had to cut holes in the toes of their shoes because their families couldn't afford to buy new ones for their growing feet. Some of my first-grade classmates didn't move on to second grade when I did. I couldn't stand up for those children when I was a kid, but I can stand up for their families and those like them now.

A skilled home visitor is trained to help parents provide emotional and cognitive support for their children, which helps protect their kids from the stressors of poverty. That's how resilient a child's brain is. It takes so little -- like reading a book or counting fingers -- and does so much.

As Frederick Douglass said, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." It's also less expensive. That's why I hope you'll join me in urging Congress to support the reauthorization of MIECHV. By helping mothers and fathers be the best parents they can be, we can put more children on a path toward success.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
Wabash304551
Adams302136
Ripley300046
Putnam297850
Huntington293159
Jasper290534
White274143
Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
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Fayette247848
Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
LaGrange229662
Scott225739
Clay223532
Randolph214948
Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
Fountain184627
Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
Fulton164230
Orange160835
Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
Vermillion149334
Franklin149033
Tipton133033
Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
Benton86910
Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 864322

Reported Deaths: 10711
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101705707
Cuyahoga860661145
Hamilton64392448
Montgomery43309418
Summit35063761
Lucas31500625
Butler31128232
Stark25933435
Warren19746141
Lorain19165223
Mahoning17383338
Lake16178154
Clermont16057111
Delaware1445479
Licking13274137
Fairfield1287781
Trumbull12861316
Greene12114139
Medina11666168
Clark10995265
Wood10407158
Allen9945126
Portage9382109
Miami921073
Richland9186118
Marion7467113
Tuscarawas7410182
Columbiana7356124
Pickaway728450
Wayne7080171
Muskingum705241
Erie6188129
Hancock554390
Ross5532100
Scioto541664
Geauga513555
Darke471092
Lawrence457958
Ashtabula454673
Union454628
Sandusky438562
Mercer434489
Seneca431566
Huron430041
Auglaize423064
Shelby421922
Jefferson420569
Belmont417740
Washington391840
Athens38129
Putnam376275
Madison356529
Knox354422
Ashland347438
Fulton339343
Defiance332286
Crawford323874
Preble321437
Brown313921
Logan309132
Ottawa294943
Clinton290743
Williams279467
Highland276718
Jackson265345
Guernsey256326
Champaign252628
Fayette237330
Morrow23334
Perry232018
Holmes225674
Henry220149
Hardin214033
Coshocton205722
Van Wert202645
Gallia198826
Wyandot196151
Pike177417
Adams176915
Hocking172624
Carroll156216
Paulding144721
Noble120740
Meigs109024
Monroe101032
Harrison89421
Morgan83430
Vinton70813
Unassigned00
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