Time is nearing for Congress to reauthorize the maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting (MIECHV) program. The MIECHV program supports families with millions of home visits that strengthen families and communities across the United States. Without reauthorization, these necessary services will be cut for families in need and programs will be unable to reach more families. Children First, Inc.’s SafeCare Home Visiting coordinator, Mary Joyce recently traveled to Washington D.C. with the Home Visiting Coalition to learn how to encourage Congress to extend the MIECHV program for five years with incremental funding increases until the program reaches the funding level of $800 million per year to ensure stability for families, effectiveness of programs, and expansion of resources.
Mary spent three days in D.C. filled with advocacy training, a Seeding Success event and meeting with our community’s legislators. She even had the opportunity for a behind the scene tour of the Capital! Mary chronicled her time in D.C. stating that the attendees were both Home Visitors and Parent Advocates - parents who benefitted from home visiting. A marketing company discussed how to tell your story effectively, how to do a TV interview and how to lobby. Through her lobby training, Mary now understands how to meet someone on their values and get something everyone wants when speaking with our senators and representatives. For example, everyone wants children to benefit positively. Home visiting and SafeCare are a cost-effective way to improve the lives of children and families with a $20 benefit for every dollar spent. This is a great way to connect with fiscal conservatives on this topic.
Mary’s key takeaways:
How can you get involved with home visiting?
On May 22nd-23rd, 2017, a community summit in Athens, GA at the Classic Center gathered 240 social workers, educators, legal professionals, parents, business owners and people seeking to better the Athens community to educate and create change. The goal: Make Athens a trauma informed community through sharing an understanding of trauma and its effects on the community as well as developing a shared plan for participating in community-wide solutions.
The two-day free event consisted of highly participatory and discussion-based consensus building sessions and keynote speaker, Robin Saenger. Sessions involved the impact of trauma, responses to trauma, developing a common vision, creating a common strategy and moving toward long term sustainable change. Day one specifically educated the attendees on defining common language of trauma, toxic stress and trauma informed care in order to better understand the problem and its current impact in Athens. After participants understood the realities of trauma, the summit began a facilitated discussion in which they generated ideas on how to address trauma and toxic stress at the local level. When returning for day two, the attendees were ready to draft plans and begin action on transforming Athens in a trauma informed community (TIC).
With a population of over 120,000, it is essential that we all become trauma informed citizens to better the local community. The Community Summit on Trauma & Toxic Stress garnered so much local interest that the event had to be capped at 240. The interest is considered to be the result of trauma being a top issue in Georgia, especially for students. For example, over 600 students and families in Clark County suffer from homelessness while about 300 Athens children are currently in the foster system. These are the issues that result in trauma – an occurrence which is outside the scope of everyday human experience and which would be notably distressing to almost anyone (American Psychiatric Association, 1987). However, we have provided the Community Summit on Trauma & Toxic Stress’ trauma informed systems to help address the issue in Athens:
Continue to help make Athens a trauma informed community by learning more information at http://a2aathens.weebly.com/ and utilizing their resource page. Trauma not only affects adults, but also our youth. Be for the child and our community!