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Hard Work in California Wins Continuing Expansions of Evidence-Based Home Visiting

Alliance for Early Success’ California ally, Children Now, continues to push for expansion of voluntary evidence-based home visiting in California. 

Until 2018, California was not one of the many states investing directly in voluntary evidence-based home visiting programs. Access to home visiting was uneven across the state, funded exclusively through local and federal sources, and fell far short of reaching the many families who could benefit. After many years of advocacy, the 2018-19 state budget historically created the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Home Visiting Initiative (now known as the CalWORKs Home Visiting Program) through a $158.5 million multi-year set-aside of TANF funding to provide voluntary evidence-based home visiting to CalWORKs families expecting or parenting a child under age two. In 2019-20, Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature further expanded voluntary evidence-based home visiting through the state budget – committing $90.3 million in TANF and state general funds for the CalWORKs Home Visiting Program and $23 million in state general funds to expand the MIECHV-funded Department of Public Health California Home Visiting Program.

These recent state investments are projected to double evidence-based home visiting in California.

Now the critical work ahead for advocates is to continue to work closely with the Legislature and Administration to reduce complexity across funding streams and craft the policy and financing infrastructure needed to set the foundation for further expansion over the long term. 

To this end, at the Department of Social Services’ request, Children Now recently gave a presentation on the purpose and intent of the program at the department’s CalWORKs HVP Evaluation Kick-Off meeting. The organization also recently moderated a panel of county best practices on outreach and enrollment of families at the CalWORKs Training Pre-Academy. Both events were well-attended, indicative of the enormous energy and momentum around the innovative, two-generation effort within CalWORKs that will serve 18,500 CalWORKs families annually in 44 counties. Additionally, advocates were pleased that in November 2019, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced county allocations for the increased CHVP funding committed in the 2019-20 state budget. As Children Now and partners called for during budget negotiations, CDPH added Parents as Teachers to the approved models (helping ensure CHVP can meet the diverse needs of families throughout the state), expanded the number of counties receiving funding for home visiting from 23 to 30, and established a $5 million set-aside to support select promising programs that have not yet achieved evidence-based status.

The Alliance for Early Success has been a strong supporter of Children Now in this work with technical assistance and financial investment, and Children Now is part of the Alliance’s dynamic Home Visiting Community of Practice.  

For Children Now and its partners in California, the steady home visiting gains only signal an opportunity to work harder. 

“Even though as many as 60 percent of California families could benefit from voluntary evidence-based home visiting, it reaches only 2 percent of California families with young children,” says Angela Rothermel, the Director of Early Childhood Policy at Children Now. “Children Now will continue to push for significant additional, multifaceted funding and strong local-state systems to sustain and grow these cost-effective, strengths-based programs.”

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