On March 11 of this year, “60 Minutes” aired a report on the long-term effects of childhood trauma, or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The report featured renowned psychiatrist Dr. Bruce Perry who stated that because of their developing brains, children are much more sensitive to developmental trauma than adults. As evidence of the impact of childhood trauma continues to permeate child-serving institutions, teachers, social workers, pediatricians and caregivers are changing the way they interact with children who have been subjected to ACEs. Of the many techniques and programs developed to provide trauma-informed care, home visiting is among the most studied and evidence-based approaches to mitigating or preventing childhood trauma. Before the end of this legislative session, our lawmakers have a chance to restore funding for home visiting through an amendment to Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed budget.
In 2012, state budgetary restraints resulted in a 50 percent reduction in home visiting funding. Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner has been supportive of funding for home visiting in his departmental budget, and Gov. Haslam’s team took an important step by including recurring funding for home visiting in the state’s budget. However, the proposed budget is still $1.4 million short of the pre-2012 level. Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) and Sens. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) and Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) have proposed an amendment to the budget to restore $1.4 million for a total home visiting budget of $3.4 million. This change requires votes by both the House and Senate Finance Committees.
There are several proven models targeted for different outcomes. The specific Tennessee model in need of restored funding is known as Healthy Start. Partnering with new parents in the home, professionals administer programs that provide and connect parents with a wide range of services focused on child health and development, promoting school readiness, and enhancing parenting skills. They are fundamental to preventing child adversity and often abuse and neglect. Most families that receive these services are living at or below the poverty level.
[For more on this story by Lisa Wiltshire, go to https://www.jacksonsun.com/sto...-children/462093002/]