Republicans Want To Prioritize Some Home-Visitation Programs

GOP Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Help Tennessee Families and Save Tennessee Taxpayers

Bill would ensure use of evidence-based home visitation to measure the program’s success, protect taxpayer investment and save public dollars over the long run

Press Release from House Republican Caucus; Feb. 28, 2011:

(February 28, 2011, NASHVILLE) – Citing the effectiveness of evidence-based home visitation programs to strengthen families and put infants on the road to success, Sen. Doug Overbey (R—Maryville), Rep. Glen Casada (R—Franklin), Rep. Debra Maggart (R—Hendersonville) and Rep. Ryan Williams (R—Cookeville) have filed legislation that will require that three-fourths of Tennessee home-visitation dollars be spent on programs proven to deliver results.

“High-quality home visitation programs provide strong support to young mothers, families, and their newborn babies. Many studies demonstrate that mothers in home visiting programs are more likely to deliver healthy babies, are less likely to become involved with the criminal justice system and their children are less likely to suffer child abuse and neglect. By ensuring public dollars are spent on the highest-quality home visiting programs, our state will save money by lowering the impact on some of our most costly social ills,” said Sen. Overbey.

Rep. Williams added, “Home visitation programs are a smart investment. When well implemented and held accountable for results, they help promote responsive and responsible parenting while saving Tennessee taxpayers money. This bill will require public dollars to be prioritized and spent on the most proven, evidence-based programs, which ensures the highest-quality services for Tennessee families and better stewardship of taxpayer money.”

Voluntary home visiting programs match parents facing barriers to success, such as poverty, single motherhood, and teen pregnancy, with trained professionals to provide information and support during pregnancy and throughout their child’s first three years. By helping parents improve their parenting skills and increase parental responsibility, research shows that families and society achieve benefits. Children are safer, healthier, and better prepared to learn and more likely to become successful adults.

The highest-quality home visiting programs have been shown to generate up to a $5.70 return for every $1 invested. The related impacts include:

20 percent reduction in welfare dependence;

79 percent reduction in pre-term births that result in hospitalization and public health costs;

48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect;

59 percent decrease in juvenile arrests by the age of 15;

83 percent increase in labor force participation among participating mothers by the child’s 4th birthday

HB1213/SB0909 requires that 50 percent of funds expended for in-home visitation programs be expended on evidence-based programs for the fiscal year 2011-2012 and 75 percent for each year thereafter and specifies research methods that show a program is evidence-based.