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Maryland health department gets $7.5 million to support home visits for families

A federal grant of almost $7.5 million to the Maryland Department of Health will go to helping teach parenting skills and provide other resources to pregnant women and parents of young children, health department officials said Wednesday.

The department will use the funds from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to support local agencies that make home visits to women and parents through the state's Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. The goal of the program is to help the families raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.

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The program offers well-child visits, postpartum care, tobacco cessation assistance and instruction in safe sleep, child injury prevention and other services. Participation in the program is voluntary.

The state reviewed jurisdictions where families were most at risk for premature birth and infant mortality, crime, unemployment and substance abuse and in need of prenatal care and will target Baltimore City and Allegany, Baltimore, Caroline, Dorchester, Harford, Prince George's, Somerset, Washington and Wicomico counties.

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Last year, the program made more than 15,000 home visits serving 1,332 families and enrolled more than 900 new parents and children in the program.

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