$330K grant to boost home visiting service

FAIRMONT — The Minnesota Department of Health recently announced a new round of grant funding to help local partners offer new or expanded home visiting services.

As a result, Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties received $331,003, which will aid expansion of the service into other counties. However, this isn’t the first time this has happened, according to Community Health Manager Chera Sevcik.

“Back in 2017, we received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health called the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant,” she said. “We were able to receive over $400,000 at that point to expand our evidence-based home visiting program.

“So we are implementing a program called Healthy Families America, and it’s aimed at getting in the home as early as we possibly can and start working with those families to help them. We do a lot of positive parenting techniques; we talk with them about child’s health; and we connect them to resources like dentists and early childhood education, and just try to provide them with good curriculum.

“Then in 2018, the Minnesota Legislature appropriated a substantial amount of funding over the next several years to help local public health agencies or non-profit agencies implement evidence-based home visiting programs. At that point, we applied for a grant and received $2.5 million and we were able to add more staff and expand our program locally.”

Sevcik says they were then able to partner with and expand the program into several other counties in south-central Minnesota, including Le Sueur, Waseca, Brown, Nicollet and Watonwan counties. With the recent grant dollars, the program is poised to expand again.

“Then the Legislature had another wave of funding come out and now we are able to increase our reach by adding Cottonwood and Jackson counties,” Sevcik said. “So we aren’t going to necessarily benefit here with the $300,000, but it’s going to help bring those two counties into our partnership.

“There’s been a lot of investment since 2017 locally in terms of improving the availability of evidence-based home visiting programs. Our goal is to reduce child out of home placement, reduce adverse childhood experiences, and giving these families the best start possible.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, family home visiting programs serve at-risk families such as first-time moms and families facing challenges such as mental illness, domestic abuse or substance abuse. Through home visiting programs, a nurse or other trained professional provides practical health and parenting support to parents and pregnant women during ongoing home visits until the child is 2 to 3 years old.

Sevcik also had some more good news to share.

“The federal government reauthorized the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant. Human Services of Faribault & Martin Counties recently received notice that our application to continue with this funding was approved, as we will receive $837,642 starting in 2019 through 2021.”