Around this time last year, Community Solutions reported on federal grants that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded to Ohio to address and study maternal health. This week, HHS once again announced funding, $360 million, administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for programs that support maternal and child health outcomes. Since 2010, HRSA has managed the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program which supports communities by providing voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy, and to parents with young children until they enter kindergarten.  In fiscal year (FY) 2020, HRSA awarded more than $340 million in funding to 49 states and six territories and nonprofit organizations through the MEICHV program. The Ohio Department of Health received $7,511,473 to help continue to develop and expand evidence-based, voluntary home-visiting programs that best meet the needs of specific communities. These programs include the Help Me Grow Home Visiting program established by the legislature in January 2017. Help Me Grow Home Visiting is currently offered in all 88 Ohio counties, whereas in 2015 only 23 counties had a home visiting program in place. 
In FY 2019, the MIECHV Program served more than 154,000 parents and children in all 50 states and conducted more than one million home visits.
In FY 2019, the MIECHV Program served more than 154,000 parents and children in all 50 states and conducted more than one million home visits. While we don’t yet have a state specific report on FY 2019, for grantees to continue receiving funding, they must demonstrate measurable improvement in at least four of the following six benchmark domains:
- Improvement in maternal and newborn health
- Reduction in child injuries, abuse and neglect
- Improved school readiness and achievement
- Reduction in crime or domestic violence
- Improved family economic self-sufficiency
- Improved coordination and referral for other community resources and supports.
The Ohio Department of Health will receive $2,010,055 for the project year that began September 30.
Additionally, HRSA awarded nine cooperative agreements totaling more than $16 million through the State Maternal Health Innovation Program. Year two of the five-year project period began September 30, however annual funding for the project is always subject to Congressional approval. The Ohio Department of Health will receive $2,010,055 for the project year that began September 30, for completing the first year’s goal to establish a state-focused Maternal Health Task Force, the Ohio Council to Advance Maternal Health.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of priority readjustment and put a lot of public health initiatives on hiatus, we are pleased to see that maternal health is still a concern for the federal and state governments. These grant dollars will go a long way to strengthen the work Ohio has committed to doing to improve maternal and child health.