RI Department of Health FY25 Budget - Family Home Visiting System

Last updated: April 30, 2024

Testimony Relating to H 7725
RI Department of Health FY25 Budget - Family Home Visiting System
Senate Committee on Finance
April 23, 2024
Divya Nair, Policy Analyst, the Economic Progress Institute

The Economic Progress Institute recommends additional funding for the Family Home Visiting system and opposes the Medicaid rate cut scheduled for the First Connections program in July 2024.

Rhode Island parents and babies deserve to have the support they need to have healthy outcomes. First Connections and the Family Home Visiting system provide free, essential services for Rhode Island’s families with newborns. Family home visitors provide services and assistance to the state’s most vulnerable families. Family Visiting in Rhode Island pairs expectant and new parents and families with a nurse, social worker, early childhood specialist, or community health worker, who provides support and resources to improve the family’s health, education, and social-emotional outcomes.1 The program provides critical and reliable services to help families meet their basic needs and long-term support to address housing, behavioral health, and child care needs. These are evidence-based, comprehensive programs that serve the whole family.

Rhode Island is one of only two states that does not provide state funds to support evidence-based home visiting. As of October 2024, the Federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program requires a state match to access all available federal funds. For every $1 provided by the state, Rhode Island would receive $3 in federal funds.2 These federal funds would aid in stabilizing and expanding the Family Home Visiting workforce and maximizing services to vulnerable families and children.

Families enrolled in evidence-based home visiting have lower rates of preterm births and investigations for child maltreatment once enrolled.3 Additionally, utilizing family visiting services is proven to reduce the likelihood of future engagement in state or federally funded public benefit programs, thus making it a very cost-effective program.4

Funding for Rhode Island’s Family Home Visiting system is a commitment to the state’s frontline workforce and to the well-being of our families with newborns. The Economic Progress Institute recommends additional state funding for Family Home Visiting.

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