The Connecticut Department of Public Health today announced it will receive $27 million over three years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve the health and development of at-risk pregnant women, parents, caregivers and children from birth-to-eight years of age.
In a press release put out by Connecticut DPH, LT. Gov. Nancy Wyman praised the influx of cash: “We have no more important task as parents, as citizens and as a government than ensuring that our children get a healthy start in life, and this program will go a long way toward doing just that.” “This is an investment that can directly lead to a better quality of life for our children and families, and a better future for our state.”
Connecticut’s grant award will build on the state’s early childhood programs by expanding the capacity of home visiting programs, designed to increase parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parenting practices. The grant will also allow the state to provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues, prevent child abuse and neglect, and increase children’s school readiness and school success.
The Department of Public Health (DPH) collaborated with the Departments of Social Services, Children and Families, Developmental Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Department of Education on the home visiting initiative.
“These funds will support home visiting programs in Connecticut that are effective models in protecting the health and safety of our most vulnerable children,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen in the DPH press release. “Home visits by experienced providers give parents the knowledge and skills to support their families and improve health and developmental outcomes for their children.”
Home visiting services will serve pregnant or parenting families with infants and children who reside in one of the following towns or cities: New Haven, Hartford, Meriden, Bridgeport, New Britain, East Hartford, Waterbury, Windham, Bristol, Norwich, Bloomfield, Torrington, Winchester, Ansonia, Derby, New London and Putnam.
State health officials said that of the approximately 40,000 births in Connecticut each year, roughly 10,000 births are to families with at least one significant risk factor for poor health outcomes such as developmental and behavioral cognitive delays. More than 60,000 children from birth to 5 years old in the state are estimated to be at risk for poor health outcomes.
The grant funds are part of the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program created by the Affordable Care Act. Ten states, including Connecticut, were awarded funding to expand or establish their home visiting program to families who volunteer to receive these services to improve the health and development of children.