Pennsylvania to expand support to first-time moms, children with special needs

Tony Romeo
October 13, 2019 - 4:30 am
Pennsylvania Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller with her three-year-old daughter.

Tony Romeo/KYW Newsradio

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Wolf administration has announced plans to expand home visitation support for families with first-time mothers and children with special needs covered by Medicaid.

State Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller said the exact number is yet to be determined, but she believes the expansion, which will begin next year, will reach at least 15,000 more families. Miller says managed care organizations who participate in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program will be required to provide at least two no-cost home visits by trained specialists to families with first-time mothers and special needs children. 

“All first-time parents and parents of infants with additional risk factors will receive a minimum of two home visits after their baby’s birth,” Miller said. “These home visits will teach parents about infant development, assess social indicators of health, like housing and food access that can affect child development and overall health, and identify whether additional supports are needed.”

Miller, who had her own 3-year-old daughter in tow, said she wants moms to know that it’s OK to not have all the answers, and that she, too, benefited from working with a home visitor. She spoke of the need to dispel the stigma associated with these programs.

“If we can all encourage our neighbors to utilize home visiting supports,” said Miller, “children are more likely to thrive when their families have the support they need from the beginning.”