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Social Innovation Program Update: Home Visiting and Mentoring Policy Updates

Innovate Springfield’s Social Innovation Program is all about doing what works where it’s needed most. Our community is shifting towards a social innovation mindset; we know that by doing what has been proven to be effective as well as innovating and evaluating the effectiveness of those innovations, we can provide meaningful support for our at-risk populations. Here are two opportunities to let your elected officials know that our community values the opportunity to invest in what works for low-income kids and families:

1) Advocate for the Mentoring to Succeed Act.

The Mentoring to Succeed Act (S. 1658) was introduced by Senators Durbin and Duckworth on August 27th to create a federal grant program for school-based mentoring programs that serve at-risk youth using evidence-informed practices. The bill integrates many evidence-based best practices directly into program funding requirements, including requiring a minimum match length of eight months, providing training for mentors, and conducting effective screening of mentors prior to their integration into the program. The bill also supports social innovation in school-based youth mentoring by making funds available for program evaluation. We need innovation in youth services, and if we want to encourage programs to innovate then we must follow encouragement with tangible support for measuring the effectiveness of those innovations.

Because of its strong commitment to supporting programs in aligning with evidence-informed best practices and its support for innovation through encouraging program evaluation, Innovate Springfield is proud to endorse the Mentoring to Succeed Act. Read Senator Durbin’s full press release here, and stay tuned for updates and advocacy opportunities as this bill makes its way through committee.

2) Ask your elected officials to prioritize federal MIECHV Reauthorization.

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home-Visiting (MIECHV) is a federal program that provides funding to states, territories, and tribal entities for the implementation of evidence-based and innovative home-visiting programs across the country. 75% of MIECHV’s funds are used for programs -- including Nurse-Family Partnerships across the country -- that have produced strong research evidence, and 25% of fund s are used to pilot and evaluate innovative home-visiting programs. Like many federal programs, MIECHV must be reauthorized every five years, and the program’s authorization is set to expire on September 30, 2017.

The Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office is calling on its supporters (and if you’ve read this far, that’s definitely you) to ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to make that reauthorization a top priority so that it can move through committee before that fast-approaching expiration date. Although Springfield’s Nurse-Family Partnership program is privately funded, other evidence-based home-visiting programs locally and across the country rely on MIECHV funding and technical assistance to continue serving families for whom risk factors are part of everyday life. Click here to write to your elected officials and urge them to make providing evidence-based home-visiting to those families their priority.

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