About 18 families in Klickitat County will now get the support they need to give their children a great start in life thanks to a recent round of awards from the state's Home Visiting Services Account (HVSA).
Mid-Columbia Children's Council was one of 10 grantees statewide. Over the next year, $173,317 will help Mid-Columbia Children's Council to expand its work with Early Head Start Home Visiting program.
The Thrive By Five grant award means that in many communities for the first time families will have access to a comprehensive early childhood service from conception to age three. These communities include Glenwood, Klickitat, Appleton, Trout Lake and Mt Adams Orchard. This will also result in enhanced and more integrated community partnerships with the County Health Department, Department of Social Human Services in Klickitat County as well as the Glenwood School District, Klickitat School District, and White Salmon School District. In many cases the Early Head Start services will be co-located with these community partners for better cross-agency communication and referrals.
Home visiting is a voluntary service in which nurses or other trained professionals meet with at-risk families in their homes and offer information and support related to healthy child and family development.
In the Early Head Start Home Visiting Program, these 90 minute visits happen weekly during pregnancy and up to a child's third birthday. Evidence shows that when families receive this kind of support, their children are healthier, are less likely to suffer from abuse or neglect and are better prepared for school. In fact, the entire family benefits.
"Home visiting works, and the Home Visiting Services Account is committed to helping make sure more eligible families -- especially families in some of our state's most at-risk communities -- have access to it," said Nina Auerbach, president and CEO of Thrive by Five Washington, the state's public-private partnership for early learning that administers the account. "An early investment in families results in stronger families and, ultimately, stronger communities."
Mid-Columbia Children's Council has been serving children and families since 1987, and currently serves 153 children in the Early Head Start Program in the five county area of the Columbia Gorge. These services include child development, family services and referrals, health and nutrition, and mental health.
Since it was created by the Washington state Legislature in 2010, the HVSA has become a national model for leveraging public and private funds to support home visiting programs and has helped Washington invest 10 times more than it did in home visiting just two years ago. As of July 1, the HVSA has awarded nearly $4 million in grants to 31 evidence-based, research-based and promising home visiting programs serving about 1,000 families in 13 Washington counties.
HVSA grantees represent a range of programs that meet the needs of populations across the state, including diverse geographic, racial/ethnic and other demographic groups. While most of the account's funds support direct services to families, some funds also are used for training, quality implementation and evaluation to ensure programs get the outcomes they promise to deliver for children and families. The Washington state Department of Early Learning (DEL) oversees the account, and Thrive administers it.
Making home visiting available to at-risk families is a key strategy in Washington's 10-year Early Learning Plan. Right now, only a small percentage of eligible families throughout the state receive evidence-based home visiting services.