I urge Mainers and our state Legislature to pass L.D. 552, a bill that will provide funding for continuation of the Maine Families Home Visiting Program. This much-needed program provides critical early intervention and education for children, and skills development for new parents.

The program serves families in every Maine county through education and supports for first-time families with children, prenatal through 5 years of age. In addition to teaching and working with parents on positive and effective parenting, the program’s trained professionals screen for and protect children from violence, abuse, neglect and preventable illness and injury. This prevention and early intervention approach focuses on harnessing parental strengths and the use of evidence-based practices.

Program outcomes include reduced maternal stress and depression, improved parenting attitudes and knowledge, improved parent-child bonds and an increase in the use of services, including parent access to educational and employment resources, that enable families to realize greater self-sufficiency.

Home visiting services also reduce child abuse and neglect in the home and address issues of domestic violence. Prevention of child abuse has been shown to reduce later crime violence and, as such, is an important crime prevention strategy.

Continuation of the Maine Families Home Visiting Program is currently in jeopardy, with the anticipated loss of $9.2 million in federal expansion money that has, to date, comprised 75 percent of the overall program budget. The $2.2 million in state funding proposed in L.D. 552 represents less than one-half of 1 percent of the governor’s overall $6.3 billion state budget proposal, and holds the state’s contribution at current levels. Maine’s families and Maine’s children are our future. Let’s not be guilty of shortchanging one of our greatest and most valuable resources.

Jennifer Olin


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