Chandler general sounds alarm about home visits act - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler general sounds alarm about home visits act

December 7th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler general sounds alarm about home visits act

SanTan Sun News Staff

A retired air force major general who lives in Chandler is asking citizens to write their congressional representatives urging passage of the bipartisan Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022.

Unless the measure is passed by Dec. 16, said General (Ret.) Terrence “Terry” Feehan, funding would end for voluntary home visiting, which connects professionals, such as a nurse, with families in the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

“These visits help parents avoid harmful practices for their infants and toddlers, such as poor nutrition, inadequate medical care, and even maltreatment, all tied to long-term developmental issues.,” Feehan said. “Research shows that home visiting can boost long-term academic success and reduce child abuse and health problems.”

Feehan said continued funding is critical to the nation’s defense at a time when the country’s military readiness is being hobbled by the fact that “military ineligibility among young Americans has skyrocketed to an unthinkable 77 percent.”

He pointed out that many of the factors that lead to ineligibility begin in childhood, and one way to combat those factors is through high-quality home visiting programs.

Feehan is a member of Mission: Readiness, an organization of retired admirals and generals that work for “strengthening national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit, and stay out of trouble.”

But Feehan also speaks from personal experience about the visitation program’s effectiveness because he comes from one of those families it helps.

“There are a handful of moments in every person’s life that shape them into the adult they’ll become,” he said. “In my case, I had a single mother who struggled with drugs and was briefly incarcerated. She did her best, but things weren’t always easy. These are difficult obstacles to overcome, and, sadly, these challenges are too familiar to many of our nation’s children.

“Thankfully, I had other positive influences in my young life – people who helped me pivot from difficult moments to a path of lifelong success. One of those people was my ninth-grade algebra teacher, who instilled the idea of unlimited opportunity and potential.”

He noted, “not every child who faces difficult challenges has these kinds of positive influences. Lacking this foundation, by the time many kids reach middle or high school it becomes increasingly difficult to get them back on a productive path.

“This concerns me as an Arizonan, and as a retired general and member of the military-leader organization Mission: Readiness,” said Feehan.

“Unfortunately, funding for these programs is set to expire in less than a month. That makes their reauthorization all the more important,” . The good news is that there’s a bill currently in play that would not only reauthorize, but expand funding for these programs.”

Feehan said that working with Mission: Readiness “introduced me to the impact of programs that reach children and their parents from even before birth.

“Providing crucial early support that dramatically impacts the life of the child. This impact helps unlock the child’s own unlimited potential, including serving in the military, if they so choose,” he said.

He noted that the state Legislature this year added $10 million in 2022 for these programs, “but Arizona needs much more to expand access throughout the state.”

“An immediate threat to these programs is the December 16th deadline to renew the primary funding source for home visiting: the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting funding stream,” Feehan said, noting it “serves families in a dozen counties through five different program models.

“Without reauthorization, over 2,000 Arizona families will lose access,” he added.

A recent report from the Council for a Strong America, the parent organization of Mission: Readiness, found that only 2,001 families – 2.3 percent of Arizona’s over 85,000 highest-priority families – receive home visiting services.

Hope is not lost,” Feehan said. “This bill is currently moving through Congress, but more work is needed to drive its passage.

“The Walorski Act would greatly increase MIECHV funding over five years, with an increase for every state, including Arizona,” he said, adding the programs would allow programs to continue virtual home visits, guarantee at least one in-person visit a year. strengthen and retain the home visiting workforce and double the tribal set-aside so Arizona’s tribes would have better access to home visiting programs.

“The Jackie Walorski Act is an inspirational example of Republicans and Democrats coming together on key issues to support America’s families,” Feehan said, adding that Americans’ support “will empower more children to achieve greatness, and help ensure America’s competitiveness, leadership, and national security into the future.”