SOURCE: Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

Mission: Readiness

November 18, 2014 09:51 ET

5,000 Law Enforcement Leaders Urge Extension of Home Visiting to Address 600 Percent Rise in Incarceration of Women

Renewal of Federal Home Visiting Program Is Vital Because 200,000 Women Are Behind Bars, and Almost Two-Thirds of the Women in State Prisons Are Mothers

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - November 18, 2014) - Citing a 600 percent rise in the incarceration of women during the past three decades, more than 1,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors have signed a letter urging Congress to renew the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

Created with bipartisan support in 2010, MIECHV provides states and communities with funds to implement voluntary home visiting for expectant and new mothers who live in poverty. These programs bring trained nurses or other trained mentors into the women's homes to help them understand their children's emotional needs, make their homes safe for children, and respond appropriately to stressful parenting situations. They also help the mothers stay in school and then get jobs.

While much of the discussion around voluntary, high-quality home visiting focuses on its impact on reducing child abuse and neglect, the 5,000 members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report -- "Orange is not your color" -- that documents its role in reducing convictions of women and their daughters and the savings to public. (Visit for details.)

This is particularly important because there are more than 200,000 women incarcerated in the U.S., and because nearly two-thirds of the women in state prisons are mothers.

Representing Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Delaware County (Ohio) Sheriff Russell Martin released the report alongside Congressman Dave Reichert (R, WA-8) and Nancy Schulman, a Nurse Home Visitor and representative of the Fairfax Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP).

Congressman Reichert spoke about the value of MIECHV based on his law enforcement experience as the former sheriff of King County, WA, and Sheriff Martin spotlighted several key results from the report:

  • Renewal of MIECHV will support programs that can lower crime and incarceration. A randomized controlled trial of a Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program in Elmira, New York showed high-risk mothers who did not receive home visits had more than three times as many crime convictions 15 years after the program began. And, by the time they were 19, daughters in the control group who had not participated had nine times more convictions as those who participated.
  • Helping women and their children succeed pays off. In a study of NFP programs, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that this home visiting program produced net savings of over $17,000 for every family served based on improved children's health, reductions in abuse and neglect, increased readiness for school and reductions in future crime.
  • The home visiting programs supported by MIECHV have all shown they can produce important results, such as reducing infant mortality rates, cutting child abuse and neglect, reducing the need for special education, or making families more economically independent. The Fight Crime report cites evidence of these outcomes in a range of states, including Ohio, New York, Tennessee and Alaska.

"As a former sheriff I encountered so many young parents who needed guidance and assistance with the challenges of raising children, and I dealt firsthand with the crime and disorder that communities face when kids come from chaotic homes," said Reichert, who is Chairman of the Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means. "As a Member of Congress, I strongly support programs like MIECHV that are based on research and results. We need to be doing everything we can to cut crime and save taxpayer dollars by preparing young moms and kids for successful lives."

"The 5,000 law enforcement leaders who are part of Fight Crime make no apologies for locking up people who threaten public safety, but our streets will ultimately be much safer if we prevent more people from turning to crime in the first place," said Sheriff Martin. "We titled this report 'Orange is not your color' because we'd all like to see fewer women in orange jumpsuits and many more on track for healthy, successful lives. Renewing funding for voluntary home visiting makes fiscal sense for taxpayers and common sense for everyone who wants safer communities."

"As a nurse with Nurse-Family Partnership, I'm first and foremost concerned about the health of mothers and their babies," said Schulman. "But, we are more than simply nurses; nurse home visitors help our clients through pregnancy with nutrition education and parenting skills. We also help them get into school and get jobs. And we improve their lives and the lives of their children by connecting them to community resources. I've seen firsthand how all of these factors contribute to the overall health, safety and well-being of new mothers and their children."

MIECHV was most recently reauthorized as part of the health extenders package on the "doc fix" bill, but it is set to expire on March 31, 2015. As Congress considers the doc fix in either the upcoming lame duck session or early in the 114th Congress, Fight Crime members nationwide are urging policymakers to once again renew MIECHV as part of the "doc fix" legislation.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is an anti-crime organization of nearly 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and violence survivors. We take a hard look at the research about what prevents kids from becoming criminals and put that information in the hands of policymakers and the general public.

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