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Pennsylvania Receives Federal Grant for Home Visiting Programs to Improve Well-Being of Families

Friday, August 20, 2010 Lifestyle News J E 4
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HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new federal grant will strengthen Pennsylvania's work to improve the health and developmental outcomes of at-risk children through quality home visiting programs, Public Welfare Secretary Harriet Dichter said today.

A more than $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help the state build on its successful home visiting programs and find ways to reduce gaps in services and obstacles to family participation.

"Home visiting programs are an effective, cost-efficient way to help parents build strong, healthy relationships with their children and develop positive parenting skills that can impact a child's success for life," Dichter said. "The federal grant will allow us to build on our success and better serve at-risk families who face struggles ranging from limited incomes to geographic or social isolation."

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning, or OCDEL, jointly overseen by the departments of Public Welfare and Education, will use the federal funding to build on Pennsylvania's existing home visitation efforts.

OCDEL is conducting a needs assessment to identify geographic areas that have either gaps in home visitation services or high numbers of at-risk residents. Subsequent local assessments will help OCDEL identify and address specific barriers to service in those identified areas and create or expand evidence-based home visiting programs tailored to local needs.

For example, if the needs assessment determines an underserved, high-risk community has a high rate of low birth-weight infants, a home visitation program can be used to better educate expectant parents about healthy dietary habits. If an area lags in childhood immunizations, home visitors can help educate parents on the importance of preventive medicine.

"By identifying areas of the state that are most in need of additional services or supports, we can become more strategic – and more effective – with our home visiting programs," Dichter said. "That means a greater return on our investment, which benefits not just the affected families, but every taxpayer."

For more information about home visitation programs and other early childhood initiatives, visit the Department of Public Welfare's website at www.dpw.state.pa.us.

Media contact: Michael Race, 717-425-7606

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

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