MIECHV, a separate federal program, provides federal funding for voluntary home visiting programs in all 50 states. These programs pair a qualified home-visiting professional with an at-risk parent or parents. The professional teaches parents the essential skills they’ll need to raise healthy children who can successfully hit critical development milestones. High-quality home visiting programs are a “two-generation” solution that has been shown to cut rates of abuse and neglect by as much as half, while also reducing the likelihood that participating children and their parents will engage in crime.

Voluntary home visiting programs can help parents who don’t have the support system in place that would otherwise teach them child-raising techniques. Home-visiting professionals impart that knowledge to young and expectant parents — knowledge that is especially important during the critical prenatal-to-three period.

Unfortunately, failing to reauthorize funding for CHIP and MIECHV has created instability and uncertainty for states, families, and providers. States are already starting to run out of CHIP funds, and some have begun sending out dis-enrollment letters to parents in order to notify them that their children may lose CHIP insurance as early as January 2018. As MIECHV funding also begins to dwindle, nurses and other professionals who perform home visits will begin to look for other, perhaps more stable employment due to fears that their home visiting programs will cease to exist.

In short, delays have consequences. And the sooner Congress acts, the better off everyone who benefits from these invaluable programs will be.