Vermont Establishes a System of Accountability for Home Visiting
On June 26, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law a measure that strengthens the state’s home visiting programs and establishes a system of accountability that will help ensure strong outcomes such as improved health for mothers and infants, and children being better prepared to learn when they start school. The policy directs the state’s agencies and home visiting stakeholders to establish quality standards for programs, to develop measures for outcomes programs are expected to achieve, and to create a coordinated system to ensure families in need have access to the most appropriate program.
The law, which was approved unanimously in both the senate and the house, will also provide better training and professional development opportunities and streamline the way families are referred to programs. These changes are designed to make certain that public funds are used effectively and generate a positive rate of return for Vermont taxpayers.
Vermont’s reforms are based on a policy framework developed by Pew’s home visiting campaign. Pew’s nationwide survey of home visiting programs found that most states lacked policies that link funding to program effectiveness and that few adequately measured family outcomes.
The bill had support from Vermont’s home visiting providers and members of the Vermont Home Visiting Alliance, social services organizations, state agencies, and the business community. Crucial legislative leadership came from the bill’s sponsors, Representatives Michael Fisher, Michael Mrowicki and William Frank, as well as from Representative Ann Pugh, chair of the House Committee on Human Services, and Senator Claire Ayer, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare.