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Advocates call on Congress to renew federal home visit program

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program is set to expire on Sept. 30.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — It takes a village to raise a child. It's an old adage that still rings true for many.

“It’s tough," Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children told FOX43. "It’s tough being a parent and it’s (been) tough being a parent over the past few years with the pandemic.”

But for low-income and under-resourced families, that support system may not be as big, which is why home visitors are so crucial.

“There are nurses, social workers, and other trained professionals that come to your home and provide a variety of services," King said. 

Since 2010, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program has supported both expecting families and those raising small children by teaching them how to have a healthy pregnancy, encouraging early learning, and finding employment and childcare solutions, among other services. 

It’s something King calls critical for these parents.

“When you don’t have that support network, being able to rely on someone like a home visitor—it really goes back to it, it can be a lifeline," King said. 

But now advocates like King are sounding the alarm.

The program is set to expire on Sept. 30 and Congress has yet to reauthorize it.

"It’s just almost like they haven’t gotten to it and it’s kind of like, 'We’ll get there,' but in some ways it’s candidly, kind of frustrating,” King said. 

Her group is calling on legislators to act now, rather than wait for the program to lapse.

“Families have been through so much with the pandemic, and now with the economy," King said. "Don’t put that uncertainty out there.”

King believes if the program does expire, home visits would still continue, at least in the short term.

But the long-term consequences are widely unknown.

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