The massive 1,018-page health care bill introduced by House Democrats is full of bad policy ideas, and they’re not all even about health care. One troublesome provision calls for a home visitation program that would bring state workers into the homes of young families to improve “the well-being, health, and development of children.”
Lawmakers have essentially inserted the “Education Begins at Home Act” – which was introduced in 2008 and again this year by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) – into the health care bill under the home visitation section. Despite the fact that as a stand-alone bill the Education Begins at Home Act failed to gain traction last year, lawmakers intent on increasing the federal role in education into the preschool years have inserted the language into the mammoth health care bill.
Section 440 of the House bill – Home Visitation Programs for Families with Young Children and Families Expecting Children – would provide grants to states to establish home visitation programs to educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills. The “well-trained and competent staff” will:
…provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains…modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices; [and] skills to interact with their child…
Aside from the obviously questionable role of the federal government in such practices, the vaguely-worded program specifics are troublesome. The home visitation provision dictates that the state will “prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families or a high incidence of child maltreatment.” While the home visitation program is described as “voluntary,” it’s not clear whether it would remain voluntary throughout or just up to the time a parent trainer enters the home.
The federal government doesn’t hold the key to parenting success, and creating a new home visitation program would further increase the federal role in preschool education. Just one more reason for parents to be concerned about what’s actually in the health care bill.