Washington – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), co-chairs of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, hosted a briefing Wednesday on the importance of supporting young mothers in the first few years of their children’s lives and the impact it makes on public safety and families’ futures. The briefing focused on the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, which provides grants to states to support home visiting programs to assist at-risk families with young children. At the invitation of Sen. Coons, Chief Scott Collins of the Selbyville Police Department offered his perspective on how the program makes communities safer in the long run and helps his officers to partner with families.

“Giving young families support and guidance can mean the difference between futures of crime and advancement,” Senator Coons said. “Today our prisons are filled with mothers and those who experienced abuse and neglect as children. We can do more to act early in a child’s life and ensure young mothers have the kind of support they need. For the last five years, the MIECHV program has helped families in areas like health and development, economic self-sufficiency, and stress reduction and ensured brighter futures for families and their communities alike. It’s absolutely critical that we continue to fund these programs, and I’m incredibly thankful for the partnership of law enforcement leaders in fighting for such important work.”

Chief Collins spoke about his first-hand experience about the impact the MIECHV program has in his community. “What we’re seeing in lower Delaware are the issues of young and at-risk mothers not having coping mechanisms when dealing with their young children. This program has provided mothers with plans and strategies of coping with the challenges of motherhood to prevent the mothers and children from going down a path where they are coming into contact with law enforcement. The research has shown funding of this program will save thousands of dollars and needless headaches down the road and will prevent future victims from becoming victims at all.”

The MIECHV program develops and implements voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs using models that are proven to improve child health and to be cost effective. These programs help to prevent child abuse and neglect, encourage positive parenting, and promote child development and school readiness.

Congress established the program in 2010 and in March 2014, extended funding through March 2015.  The briefing highlighted the success of the program and also underscored the need to renew it before it expires on March 31st.

Other panelists for the briefing included Dr. Michael Lu, Associate Administrator, Maternal and Child Health, HRSA; Scott Hippert, President and CEO, Parents as Teachers National Center; and Sabrina Jenkins, Parent Educator and former Parents as Teachers program participant.