Pa., NJ awarded grants to expand at-home health and social service programs

    New Jersey and Pennsylvania were two of 10 states to win competitive federal grants to expand at-home health and social services for pregnant women, and families with young children.

    The Garden State will use its $9.4 million to offer services to 5,000 families, up from the current 3,000.

    New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ Lisa von Pier said they will focus on hiring more home-visitation workers for South Jersey, where they have identified significant need.

    “It really does give us the opportunity to continue to improve maternal and child health and to give access to health screening, education and counseling,” von Pier said.

    In voluntary programs, the state sends nurses and counselors to at-risk homes with pregnant women or small children. The staff encourages prenatal health care, provides parenting counseling, and connects families with resources and programs such as WIC and Head Start.

    Pennsylvania won just over $9 million, the second-highest amount after New Jersey, in the competitive grant program created by the Affordable Care Act.

    “It’s substantial,” said Todd Klunk, with Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare. “Currently some of our child development, early learning, (and) home-visiting programs are $12 million to $13 million, and this is $9 million on top of that, so it’s almost double the size of our home visiting.”

    The funds will be used to expand services in 38 counties, including Philadelphia, Chester and Delaware.

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