In 2010, Congress created the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program to improve health and developmental outcomes for children and families in vulnerable communities through the implementation of evidence-based voluntary home visiting programs.
As part of the MIECHV initiative, the state of Wyoming received a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand and coordinate home visiting services offered to pregnant women, children and families. The initiative requires that all programs be measured for effectiveness against federally mandated benchmarks in order to ensure positive outcomes for participants.
A mapping and needs assessment study conducted by the Wyoming Department of Health in 2010 revealed numerous counties throughout the state where families would most benefit from additional home visitation programs. The focus was on families with children ages prenatal to 36 months. Counties were identified by such factors as poverty, child neglect, low birth weights, poor school readiness and a history of substance abuse. The study also exposed a gap in home visitation services for underserved families.
Parents as Teachers National Center was selected to spearhead the comprehensive, statewide Wyoming Home Visiting Initiative, along with the Wyoming Citizen Review Panel acting as the implementation and service delivery partner. In addition, Parents as Teachers has expanded its home visiting model to four Wyoming counties (Fremont, Albany, Natrona and Sweetwater). Participating families are receiving weekly or bi-weekly home visits from parent educators.
Parents as Teachers is partnering with Wyoming organizations and agencies already in place, specifically to:
- Develop consistent policies and standards;
- Eliminate duplication and gaps in services to better meet family needs;
- Develop systems to refer and transition families between home visiting models; and
- Ensure consistent service quality, professional development, community ownership and sustainability, and track results.