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Blending Funds for Home Visiting Leads to Enhanced Coordination in Rhode Island
Rhode Island's 2005 early childhood system plan, Successful Start, provided the foundation upon which state leaders could seize opportunities to expand services to support the healthy development of the state’s youngest children.
The plan identified the need for sustainable, blended funding streams across agencies, as well as enhanced evidence-based home visiting services for families with young children at high risk. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a state policy and planning organization, worked as the intermediary organization to identify and bring together all of the state agencies and programs utilizing various federal funding streams related to home visiting. Together, they collaborated to identify goals and outcomes of the various funding streams (e.g., to prevent and reduce child maltreatment, to improve maternal economic self-sufficiency, to improve child and maternal health, etc.) and mapped those onto the goals and outcomes of home visiting programs. The points of overlap and intersection became opportunities for agencies to pool funding.
In 2008, Rhode Island was awarded a 5-year federal Evidence-Based Home Visiting (EBHV) grant to work across agencies to establish and sustain an anchor Nurse-Family Partnership site. When the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program was established, the Rhode Island Department of Health was able to capitalize on the initial collaborative, cross-agency work to dramatically expand evidence-based home visiting programs in the state (adding Healthy Families America and Parents as Teachers) and build strong cross-agency referral, service coordination, and continuous quality improvement systems for home visiting. Rhode Island also leveraged resources through Part C early intervention, Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, TANF, and Medicaid. Blended funding not only increased services for families, but it enhanced collaboration and prompted critical discussions about service coordination, program standards, and professional development.
This description of Rhode Island’s work is highlighted in ZERO TO THREE’s publication A Place to Get Started: Innovation in Infant and Toddler State Policies.
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This year, ZERO TO THREE Think Babies partners in states kept the needs of babies in front of policymakers in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.