NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, and Cory Booker today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services $10,821,021 for its Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children.

“Home visitations by nurses, social workers and other professionals are proven to improve the prenatal health, development, education and economic self-sufficiency of low-income children and families,” said Sen. Menendez, who was a key architect of the program. “This funding will go a long way to help us build upon proven programs in New Jersey that are already helping children in at-risk households.”

“Providing pregnant women and new parents with additional support and resources ensures that babies are born healthy and parents learn to provide the care their child needs to thrive,” said Sen. Booker. “This funding will help expand a proven program that supports families in need and will make a lasting difference in the lives of many New Jersey families.”

Through MIECHV, nurses, social workers, or other professionals visit at-risk families in their homes to evaluate their living situations and provide information on resources available to improve the health, educational, and economic opportunities for at-risk children. Resources include health care, early education, parenting skills, child abuse prevention, and nutrition education or assistance.

Sen. Menendez is the Senate champion of the MIECHV program and led the charge for a five-year reauthorization in 2017 to ensure families across the nation continue to receive services from this important program. In New Jersey, all twenty-one counties are served by this program

Throughout his career, Sen. Menendez has supported legislation to support mothers and families.

Sen. Menendez, along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act of 2018, which will improve maternity care for women and newborns by holding Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) accountable through higher quality standards. Medicaid currently has a set of guidelines for pediatric and adult care but no specific standards for maternity and infant care. The legislation will also provide funding for care quality partnerships that will bring together states, health care providers, insurance companies, and other stakeholders to develop and carry out new strategies to improve maternity and infant care.

Last July, Sen. Menendez met with new and expecting mothers in Newark to hear firsthand how they were able to receive safe, quality and affordable prenatal and neonatal care because of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the CDC, the United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world and one of the highest rates of infant mortality. In New Jersey, there are 37 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 20 per 100,000 nationally.

Last spring, Sen. Menendez hosted a roundtable with health experts focused on the health challenges that uniquely impact minority women in recognition of Minority Health Month. One of the topics discussed was the significant disparity in maternal mortality rates between African American women and white women. African American women in New Jersey are five times more likely to die than white women from complications due to pregnancy.

Sen. Menendez sponsored the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2017, which would establish grants for states to create a maternal mortality review committee and develop plans to improve maternal health outcomes.

As part of the ACA, the Senator was instrumental in ensuring maternity coverage protections for women and in ending gender discrimination by insurance plans.

Sen. Menendez has consistently fought hard against the Republican’s many efforts to dismantle the ACA.