HHS is committed to supporting both evidence-based programs and innovative approaches for children and youth in order to positively impact a range of important social outcomes such as child maltreatment, school readiness, teen pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infections, and delinquency. HHS is investing in strategies that give children and youth a positive start in life and help ensure their future health and development.
- Promoting Improvements in Maternal, Child, and Family Health and Development
Recognizing the importance of promoting healthy development for children and improving maternal health, the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program gives funding to states, territories, and tribes to provide pregnant women and children birth to age 5 with evidence-based home visiting services. In these programs, nurses, teachers, social workers or other trained staff work with families in their home to help parents succeed as parents by teaching them positive parenting skills, helping them to identify any developmental or health issues, and connecting parents with community supports and services they may need to support their children’s healthy development. The initiative seeks to replicate models that have been shown to improve maternal and newborn health; prevent child injuries, child abuse, neglect, or maltreatment; improve school readiness and achievement; and improve the coordination and referrals for other community resources and supports.
- Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care
HHS is working to fund new approaches that reduce the length of foster care stays. The Permanency Innovations Initiative funds partnerships between state and local public child welfare agencies, non-profits, and universities to implement demonstration projects designed to help connect children and youth who have long stays in foster care with safe and permanent homes. The program’s six grantees are developing or enhancing permanency services for specific populations known to have disproportionately long lengths of stay in foster care, including Native American and African American children; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual youth; children with severe emotional disturbances; and children affected by trauma. In addition, Congress recently has granted the Secretary authority to waive certain provisions of federal child welfare laws to spur innovation in prevention and permanency strategies, and ultimately improve outcomes for children and families and HHS will work with states to use this new flexibility to test new approaches to improving outcomes for children. HHS also is exploring best practice guidelines and models to ensure that children with mental health and trauma-related conditions have access to effective care and treatment and that when psychotropic drugs are prescribed they are medically indicated and provided to children in foster care only when absolutely necessary, and with proper oversight.
- Reducing Rates of Teen Pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Associated Sexual Risk Behaviors
HHS is investing in effective programs that have been shown to reduce teen pregnancy or the risk behaviors associated with teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Under the new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, HHS funds states, non-profit organizations, school districts, universities, and others to replicate models that have been rigorously evaluated and shown to be effective at reducing teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, or other associated sexual risk behaviors. Funding also supports research and demonstration projects that will develop and test additional models and innovative strategies to prevent teen pregnancy, so that we continue to expand and refine our evidence base. Formula grants to states through the Personal Responsibility Education Program, part of the Affordable Care Act, also fund evidence-based program models and test new strategies. Both programs target groups with high teen pregnancy rates.