We can give kids a more promising future

The Murphy family. Photo courtesy of Ryan Murphy. 

While it can be the most amazing job you will ever have, being a parent is hard work. Universally, all moms and dads want the same thing for their children: for them to be healthy, happy and successful. When things don’t turn out as you had hoped, it’s only natural to feel that you somehow let your child down.

Though some children will face hurdles in their lives, it’s essential as a parent to recognize when your children need a little extra support, and understand how you can provide them with resources that will help them thrive.

That’s why I am proud to share that my son, Liam, is now receiving home visiting services. While some parents might feel a sense of failure or shame, I instead feel gratitude and optimism. I know he will be better off due to the services he is now receiving in our home.

While there are many different models, home visiting programs are all voluntary. They connect families to a trained member of the community, such as a nurse, who mentors parents on how to promote healthy early childhood development and support children in their earliest and most important years of life. These programs give families, particularly those considered vulnerable, assistance in raising children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy.

Liam is now 13-months-old and has only recently learned to crawl. Unfortunately, Liam’s gross motor skills are a few months delayed, and he still has a way to go until he can walk on his own. Working with an occupational therapist who visits our home, Liam’s mother and I are learning how we can assist him in developing the skills he will need to walk. I know that our proactive decision to enroll Liam in home visiting services will help him catch up to his peers.

Over the past few years in my home state of Washington, the state legislator allocated significant resources for home visiting programs, which made these vital services available to hundreds of additional families. Meanwhile, in 2018, the U.S. Congress reauthorized five years of funding for the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, also known as MIECV, thereby assisting all 50 states with revenue for home visiting programs. Though these are great investments, more needs to be done.

While I am fortunate to have excellent health insurance and the financial means to get my son the services he requires, less than 4% of families who need home visiting services receive them around the country. [1]

More state and federal home visiting funding are essential to ensure underserved kids get the early interventions they need to thrive in their first years of life, such as hands-on developmental activities and health screenings. Together, we can make sure more children across the United States have the same promising future as my son Liam will have due to his early intervention.

Learn more about SCAN’s work around early childhood education and development.


[1] This number is based on the authors’ analysis of the number of families served by evidence-based home visiting—304,000—and the number of potential beneficiaries, or pregnant women and families with children under 6 years old not yet in kindergarten, or 18.1 million. See National Home Visiting Resource Center, “2018 Home Visiting Yearbook: An Overview” (2018), available at https://www.nhvrc.org/wp-content/uploads/NHVRC_Yearbook-Summary_2018_FINAL.pdf.