Before you read the article below “special to the Star-Telegram” by State Senator Jane Nelson, please read this PEW.com post where you will learn, “The Obama administration has announced that it will seek a substantial new investment to expand voluntary evidence-based home visiting programs.”
Is Senate Bill 426 an example of more social engineering or community organizing? Do we really want more government ‘help’ at tax payers’ expense? Once implemented, what government program ever ends? Have you ever seen the cost of a government program decrease? What quantifiable measures will be in place to monitor this ‘program’? How will you mesure its success or failure? How can we actually know if these programs have a positive impact until kids from these ‘underpriviledged’ homes become productive members of society? Seems to me all the “evidence-based” data to which the article refers is little more than psychobabble, the purpose of which is to defend a desired ourcome.
Our children are our most precious resource that obviously deserve a safe loving environment in which to grow into productive citizens.
It just makes more sense to me to identify the true source of the problem and prevent it rather than to wait and treat it with a band-aid… a very expensive band-aid.
My greatest disappointment in reading Nelson’s article is that it was written by a Republican, and not by someone in the Obama administration.
And we call ourselves CONSERVATIVES!
Home-visit programs can give kids healthier start
By Sen. Jane Nelson, (Special to the Star-Telegram), Apr. 06, 2013 –
Texas has a long tradition of promoting the healthy development of children, especially in the first years of their lives. We have made landmark investments in child-development programs such as the Nurse-Family Partnership, and now we stand ready to expand voluntary, high-quality and accountable programs via the Texas Home Visiting Act.
Texas’ home visiting programs pair high-risk families with trained providers who provide support to parents during pregnancy and in the first years of children’s lives — when public investments reap their biggest returns.
Most home visiting programs target first-time, low-income mothers, many of whom suffer from pre- and post-partum depression. Without this support, many parents have no resources to succeed in their role as their children’s first and best teachers.
The research is clear: Children with attachment disorders from neglect often have difficulty building trusting relationships and, in the most severe cases of neglect, may not develop bonds with others or even fully develop a conscience. Home visiting programs are voluntary and help provide the tools these vulnerable families need not only to reduce child abuse and neglect, but also to succeed in raising high-functioning, mentally stable, school-ready children.
This is an especially timely topic with April being Child Abuse Prevention Month.
We know the long-term benefit of these programs to high-risk families and the state, which is why I am working to promote Senate Bill 426, which expands accountable home visiting programs in Texas.
Our constituents sent us to Austin to make sure their tax dollars are spent wisely on programs and services that deliver measurable, positive results. SB426 aims to ensure that the state invests in evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs that not only demonstrate benefits to children and families, but also have great cost benefits to the state.
In addition to improving the mental health of both the mother and child, these positive outcomes can lead to a reduction of many costly social problems. We know that if we get it right early on, we can solve many issues in our society today.
Home visiting programs can dramatically improve the likelihood that both parents and children will make positive contributions to the Texas economy today and for decades to come. However, if we want these outcomes, we must invest precious state resources in programs that are proven to work and then track their performances.
The Senate’s proposed budget includes $7.9 million to cover home visits for 2,000 more families than the Texas Health and Human Services Commission already reaches. But many thousands more qualify for services.
SB426 requires that at least 75 percent of appropriated home visiting funds go to evidence-based programs, meaning that credible scientific evidence shows they work. With this foundation, HHSC can evaluate the programs for effectiveness, ensure they are implemented with fidelity and make some investment in promising programs to encourage innovation for new programs to implement novel strategies for the hardest-to-reach families that desire services.
This legislation will also allow us to collect the information necessary to evaluate Texas home visiting programs so we can be sure funds are being spent in the most effective and efficient manner to produce the best outcomes for families and taxpayers. It will set quality standards for our home visiting programs and document the return on investment.
SB426 has strong bipartisan support at the Texas Capitol. In addition, a growing number of business, citizen and public policy groups have joined the efforts to pass this important legislation, which would create one of the most accountable, targeted and effective home visiting systems in the country. Texas taxpayers, parents, and — most importantly — our children deserve nothing less.
State Sen. Jane Nelson represents District 12.