Legislation Introduced: Home Visiting Services Pilot Program Establishment Act of 2017
DC Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau recently introduced the Home Visiting Services Pilot Program Establishment Act of 2017, a bill that would evaluate and potentially implement an innovative funding mechanism for home visiting, institute home visiting capacity grants to support providers of home visiting services, and require Help Me Grow DC to facilitate referral and intake into home visiting services. It is encouraging to see support from the DC Council for home visiting and the unique ways that such programs can support families in achieving the best possible outcomes.
As noted in the Office of the DC Auditor’s Home Visiting Status Report completed by DC Action for Children, many home visiting service providers are challenged with capacity concerns: funding for program slots, staff time for fulfilling data and reporting requirements for grants and staff to manage and execute program budgets. Additionally, there is a limited number of providers in the District, resulting in too few slots to meet the need for home visiting. This bill seeks to address these challenges and to begin to establish District-level supports for this unique family support strategy.
The major provisions of the bill include:
- A pay-for-success feasibility study
Pay-for-success (PFS) is a public-private funding model that encourages private funders to contribute, totally or in part, to the costs of implementing a proven model for ensuring cost savings, such as home visiting. The return on investment of implementing this model is then used to repay the investor (usually with interest) and the remaining gains are usually retained by the government agency responsible for managing the funding partnership.
This bill calls for the DC Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services to conduct a feasibility study to better understand whether pay-for-success financing is appropriate for use as a funding mechanism for home visiting in the District. This feasibility study would help the District better understand who ideal target populations are for home visiting, which outcome improvements result in the greatest cost savings for DC and whether pay-for-success is a good fit for the District. Many communities that have conducted these studies – even those that have then chosen not to implement PFS – have learned valuable information about their home visiting infrastructure and programs from their feasibility studies.
- Implementation of PFS, if determined feasible (+ supporting elements)
If the feasibility study finds that PFS is implementable in DC, a ten-year pilot program for PFS financing to improve, expand and sustain home visiting programs would be established by this bill. The pilot program would be overseen by the Department of Health.
The bill also calls for the institution of a home visiting fund through which funds for PFS financing for home visiting would be processed, and an evaluation panel to ensure accountability in PFS implementation.
- Creation of capacity-building grants
A particularly promising component of CM Nadeau’s bill would authorize capacity-building grants for home visiting to be administered through the Department of Health. HV programs and other relevant organizations would be eligible to apply for these grants to strengthen DC’s home visiting system. Grants may be applied to individual programmatic supports, such as start-up funding or technical assistance, or to District-wide supports, such as home visiting workforce development.
- Central Intake
Finally, the Act directs the Department of Health to ensure that the newly launched Help Me Grow DC system provides referrals to home visiting services and serves as a central intake system for home visiting (more on central intake systems soon!).
This bill is the first in DC to prioritize the development of an infrastructure for the home visiting system in DC. We’re looking forward to taking the next steps in the legislative process and hearing from our partners about how this bill could move the needle on HV in the District. The hearing for this bill is scheduled for September 18 at 11 AM. Stay tuned for updates on this bill as we get them!