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N.C. Home Visitation Programs Receive $1.6 Million Jump Start

For release: Immediate    June 14, 2011
Contact: Julie Henry, 919-707-5053

RALEIGH — The N.C. Division of Public Health has announced the five recipients of $1.6 million in federally-funded grants for the state’s implementation of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. The Home Visiting Program is a provision of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and is designed to improve health and development outcomes for young at-risk children through evidence-based home visiting programs.

“Home visitation programs are common in other countries, and have been used effectively in the United States to improve children’s health outcomes,” State Health Director Jeff Engel said. “Providing families with support and access to information will create healthier environments for our children, making them better prepared for success in life.”

Applications were limited to those from counties or areas determined to be “high need,” based on factors including premature birth rates, infant mortality rates, poverty and crime, domestic violence, high school dropout rates, substance abuse, unemployment and child maltreatment. Home visiting programs may provide a variety of social, health-related, or educational support and are offered on a voluntary basis to pregnant women or young children.

Community grant recipients include the Center for Child and Family Health (Durham); the Gaston County Health Department; the Buncombe County Department of Health; the Toe River Health Department (Mitchell and Yancey Counties); and the Northampton County Health Department (serving Northampton, Halifax, Edgecombe, and Hertford Counties).

The N.C. Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC), created by Gov. Perdue in 2010, will be the state advisory group for the grant program.

“The new federal Home Visiting Program presents a great opportunity for North Carolina to extend its tradition of leadership in successfully implementing early childhood programs of the highest quality,” said Robin Britt, ECAC chair. “We will be working closely with the Division of Public Health and the grantees to be sure that we use this opportunity to bolster our state’s infrastructure for strengthening families.”

In addition to the Division of Public Health, the State Home Visiting program also will be linked with various state-level early childhood initiatives housed within the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Division of Social Services, Division of Child Development, Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services. Other key stakeholders include the NC Head Start Collaborative Office and the NC Partnership for Children.

The first year of the community grants will begin in fall 2011 and end in September 2012 with the option to renew for two years, pending the availability of federal funds.