Single moms, at-risk families in Arizona could lose $11 million in services

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Funding for program that teaches parenting skills may run out. 20 Nov. 2017 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Funding for program that teaches parenting skills may run out. 20 Nov. 2017 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)

Family health advocates are urging Congress to reauthorize a federal program that provided nearly $11 million in funding for single moms and at-risk families in Arizona last year.

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program – known by many providers simply as MIECHV – sends nurses and social workers into the homes of at-risk families across the country to provide coaching and wellness checks.

In Arizona, the program funded 30,068 home visits to 2,286 families in fiscal year 2016.

MIECHV, which was created under the Affordable Care Act, expired at the end of the September. If Congress doesn’t vote to reauthorize it, providers in Arizona say the federal funding they receive from the program would run out next fiscal year.

“I think we're all just really afraid,” said Anne-Marie Salazar of Southwest Human Development, one of several providers in Arizona that receive MIECHV funds.

Salazar said funding from MIECHV allows the non-profit to serve an additional 300 families per year in Maricopa County alone.

“Statewide, if MIECHV was not refunded, there would be thousands – several thousand families – that would lose services,” she said.

MIECHV supports four home visiting programs in Arizona including the Nurse-Family Partnership, Family Spirit, Parents as Teachers and Healthy Families Arizona.

Decades of research shows all four programs have been "proven to improve child heath and to be cost effective," according to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration.

One of the single moms helped by Healthy Families Arizona was Amy, who asked that her last name be excluded from this report.

“It really helped form the base and knowledge of how to be a parent,” she said.

Amy, a single mom, started in the program at 19 just after she gave birth to her daughter. More than a decade later, her daughter is excelling in school and so is Amy: she’s studying to get a a pediatric nurse practitioner.

“It helped give me the confidence that I can do it, and I can be a great mom at the same time and I think it would be a shame if the federal funding were to disappear from this program because it's so important,” she said.

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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