The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has contracted with Boise State’s Center for Health Policy to develop and implement an evaluation plan for the Idaho Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. MIECHV was developed and funded under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to provide funds for “Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs” to ensure healthy maternal and child health in members of at-risk populations. The program’s goal is to help build quality, comprehensive statewide early childhood systems for pregnant women, parents and caregivers, and children from birth to 8 years of age – and, ultimately, to improve health and development outcomes across the nation.
Primary investigators Tedd McDonald, PhD, faculty in the Department of Community and Environmental Health, and Tim Dunnagan, EdD, dean of the College of Health Sciences, along with Sandina Begic, project manager for the Center for Health Policy, are currently involved in developing systems for collecting data on the extent to which three types of home visitation programs—Early Head Start, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers—can help improve mother and child outcomes across multiple domains, including maternal and newborn health, child injury, abuse and maltreatment, improvement in school readiness and achievement, domestic violence, and family economic self-sufficiency. Dr. Zeynep Hansen, a health economist from the College of Business and Economics, is working with the team to evaluate the program’s cost.
“This [MIECHV] is an exciting program,” McDonald said. “Idaho has been far behind other states in terms of coordinated home visitation programs to serve at-risk families. We have a real opportunity to help ensure these families are well served in the future.”
Although the first year of the contract will consist primarily of the development of an implementation plan for services in four Idaho counties with high risk indicators, the researchers hope to renew the contract to track the program’s success across wider regions of the state.