Home visiting programs can help expectant mothers and families with young children thrive, and there are several opportunities for homeless assistance providers to partner with these programs. To further progress towards the goal of ending homelessness for families with children and youth by 2020 and ensure the well-being of young children, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently distributed guidance to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), Tribal MIECHV, and Healthy Start program grantees on how to provide their services to families experiencing homelessness.
Through evidence-based home visiting programs that can meet families wherever they are, the MIECHV and Tribal MIECHV programs provide expectant families and families with children, from birth to kindergarten entry, with resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. The Healthy Start program provides pregnant women and new mothers with resources they need to nurture their children. These resources could include prenatal and postpartum programs, parenting skill-building, child care, job training, nutrition education, and a host of other supportive services.
Opportunities for Collaboration
In recent Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs), HUD has provided resources to create new projects to serve families experiencing homelessness. HHS’s home visiting and Healthy Start programs provide an excellent complement to those resources and foster healthier and more stable families amongst those experiencing homelessness.
Continuums of Care (CoCs) can collaborate with our partners in HHS in several ways. First, they can include MIECHV, Tribal MIECHV, and Healthy Start grantees as members and active participants in the local CoC. Allowing these grantees to participate in the CoC helps ensure that services available to families reflect the needs of the community. Having these providers as active members in the CoC and as a part of the planning process can help identify not only the concerns of homeless families but also other support services and mainstream programs available to families and other homeless populations.
The MIECHV and Healthy Start programs can be integrated into CoC projects by providing needed and eligible supportive services to program participants. Like other early childhood programs such as Head Start or child care, many of the MIECHV and Healthy Start activities are also eligible supportive services in the CoC program, which means they are eligible to be used as match.
MIECHV and Healthy Start grantees should be included in the CoC coordinated entry process. They can provide outreach to families who need to be connected to homelessness programs and can be used to direct families to the correct access points of entry in a community. In addition, MIECHV and Healthy Start grantees can receive referrals from other agencies that participate in the CoC’s coordinated assessment system.
The MIECHV, Tribal MIECHV, and Healthy Start programs are just a few federal programs that are collaborating with homelessness providers to end family homelessness.
To find out more about these programs and other agencies in HHS, visit the following websites: