Iowa law enforcement officials are advocating for renewal of a federally funded program for new moms. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program connects nurses and mentors with new mothers who live in poverty. Joshua Spaulding, Deputy Director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, says the programming makes a big difference.

“Mothers who have gone through a home visiting program, they are less likely to have committed a crime,” Spaulding said at a news conference today at the Des Moines Police station. “Similarly situated mothers who did not have a home visitor are three times more likely to have gone to prison.” Over the last four years, Iowa has received $24 million from the program.

Several Iowa programs share the funding, including Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa. Nurse Jennifer Boeding said mentoring models positive behavior for at-risk mothers. “Another important aspect of nurse family partnership is building a trusting relationship with their children. We start this discussion during pregnancy, using a parallel process, we are invited into their homes and we build trust with these women, who in turn learn to build trust with their child,” Boeding said.

Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy, Des Moines Police Chief Doug Harvey and Polk County Attorney John Sarcone also took part in the news conference. More than two dozen Iowa law enforcement leaders are among the more than 1,000 sheriffs, police chiefs and prosecutors who’ve signed a letter urging Congress to renew the federal program.