Children develop fastest in their earliest years, and the skills and abilities they develop in those years help lay the foundation for future success. Early negative experiences can contribute to poor social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes both in early childhood and in later life. One approach that has helped parents and their young children is home visiting, which provides individually tailored support, resources, and information to expectant parents and families with young children. Many early childhood home visiting programs work with low-income families to help ensure the healthy development and well-being of their children.
In 2010, Congress authorized the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program by enacting section 511 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 711, which also appropriated funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2014. Subsequently enacted laws extended funding for the program through fiscal year 2022. The program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in collaboration with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The initiation of the MIECHV Program began a major expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs for families living in at-risk communities. The legislation authorizing MIECHV recognized that there was considerable evidence about the effectiveness of home visiting, but also required an evaluation of MIECHV in its early years. That evaluation became the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE). The overarching goal of MIHOPE is to learn whether families and children benefit from MIECHV-funded early childhood home visiting programs, and if so, how. MIHOPE includes the four evidence-based home visiting models that 10 or more states chose in their fiscal year 2010-2011 plans for MIECHV funding: Early Head Start – Home-based option, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. From October 2012 to October 2015, a total of 4,229 families entered the study.
Given the positive effects found in previous long-term studies of home visiting and previous findings that the benefits of home visiting outweigh the costs only after children enter elementary school, ACF and HRSA initiated plans to design long-term follow-ups with the families who are participating in MIHOPE. MDRC is conducting this work in partnership with Columbia University and Mathematica Policy Research. ACF and HRSA were interested in ensuring that any additional follow-up build on information from the earlier waves of data collection to the greatest extent possible, and that any proposed follow-up points build on one another. This long-term follow-up phase is called MIHOPE-LT. This report presents the proposed design for potential long-term follow-ups with MIHOPE families through the time when their children are in high school. The report also presents the detailed design for the follow-up that is occurring when children are in kindergarten. (author abstract)