Home Visits Help Families Stick Together

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by Celeste Yager-Kandle

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03.17.2022

Early Childhood advocates, providers, and parents brought their voices together in 2022 to tell decision makers that investing in family support programs is vital to kids and families, and an important piece of the early childhood system.

This year, we saw big policy wins for family support programs, including wage increases for and restoring service in Healthy Families Oregonand relief nurseries. During the 2022 session, The Oregon legislature passed House Bill 4005 and the Child Care Emergency Response Package, an historic $100 million investment in Oregon’s early childhood system. 

Now that the session has ended, we’re joyful about the investments that will support the recruitment and retention of early childhood providers in both of these programs, which will ensure that there are enough people to serve families, and that providers are making a living wage. Stabilizing a skilled, diverse workforce is a critical component in improving services and ultimately, ensuring that kids and families have access to support when they need it.

We talked to parents who have participated or are currently participating in voluntary home visiting, offered through both Healthy Families and relief nurseries, and they emphasized why continued investment in family support programs is so needed. 

Marnesha Strickland learned about voluntary home visiting services for parents with newborns in the hospital, after she gave birth to her daughter. Shortly thereafter, she met with a home visitor through Albina Head Start, a contractor providing Healthy Families Oregon Services.

Kalisha Griffin is another parent who participates in home visiting services through Albina. She said that her doctor referred her to the program and that her home visitor has helped her connect to resources she may not have discovered otherwise.

Home visits are free and voluntary, and are designed to improve health outcomes for children and parents, encourage positive child development, and enhance family well-being. Home visits focus on the whole family, including helping parents meet their own goals. 

Natasha Griffin has a one-year-old, and meets virtually with her home visitor once a week. Griffin shared that  home visiting services have helped her to pursue a job in early education, and she recently took a position as a teacher’s assistant with Albina Head Start. 

Home visiting services aren’t just for first-time parents. Constance Arron explained that she reconnected with her home visitor when she had a baby eight years after having her last child, and that having the support of a home visitor brought comfort as she navigated parenting a new baby.

 

The Child Care Emergency Response Package and House Bill 4005 are steps towards progress, but are a short-term solution to address the immediate child care crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Together these bills will:

  • Provide $2 million to Healthy Families Oregon and relief nurseries to raise wages
  • Fund an additional $122,830 to restore Healthy Families Oregon services
  • Increase the amount of money providers who accept Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) subsidies receive per child, bringing rates to a more equitable level
  • Provide $21 million in direct relief payments of $500 each to currently-working child care providers—one payment in 2022 and another in 2023
  • Invest $39.3 million to recruit and train new child care providers, and provide direct grants to expand existing facilities of all types
  • Direct $3.6 million to the Department of Early Learning & Care

There is still work to be done to make significant, long-term progress within the early childhood system. In 2023, Children’s Institute and the Early Childhood Coalition will continue to advocate for lasting solutions that will expand access to early childhood programs, child care, and family support services.

We want to give a heartfelt thank you to the parents who shared their experiences with us.

 

Related Links

‘You feel like you have someone in your corner,’ Parents and Providers Urge Leaders to Invest in Family Support Programs, Home Visiting Services

Funding Relief Nurseries is an Investment in Families and Communities

Oregon’s Early Childhood Coalition Releases 2021 Legislative Report

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