Legislature approves federal Home Visiting funding

National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

The state’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission decided to accept federal Home Visiting funds last week, making Florida eligible to apply for $100 million in Race to the Top grants. This action paves the way for the implementation of a new Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) in Jacksonville, targeting first time mothers in the New Town Success Zone and two other neighborhoods.

During its spring session, the Legislature refused to accept the federal home visiting grant because it was part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Five programs approved by the state, including the NFP in Jacksonville, were left hanging.

The Budget Commission agreed to a request by the Governor’s Office to reconsider this decision after federal officials said the state could not apply for early education funding if it turned down the home visiting grant. Jacksonville Senator Steve Wise, a commission member, voted to support the request.

The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition is the grantee for the NFP. Services will be provided to 100 pregnant and parenting women annually by specially trained nurses from the Duval County Health Department and Shands Jacksonville. The evidence-based model is one of seven identified by the federal government as successfully impacting key outcomes in maternal and child health, child maltreatment, child development, school readiness, family socio-economic status and injuries, crime and domestic violence.

In addition to Jacksonville, Alachua, Bradford/Putnam and Pinellas Counties will receive funding to implement the Parents as Teachers program, while Healthy Families will be implemented in Pensacola. Grantees include three Healthy Start Coalitions, a county health department and Escambia Healthy Families.