ST. PAUL-The Minnesota Department of Health has announced new grants for nearly one-third of the counties in the state to increase family home visiting.

The programs serve at-risk families such as first-time moms and families facing challenges like mental illness, domestic abuse or substance abuse by providing a nurse or other trained professional to provide health and parenting support.

Pregnant women and mothers can receive ongoing home visits until the child is 2 to 3 years old.

National research has shown that family home visiting programs result in improved health during pregnancy, fewer childhood injuries and improved school readiness. These programs also have a positive effect on reducing child emergency room visits and the number of months a family is on welfare, said the department.

There is a return on investment in the range of $2.88 to $5.70 for every dollar spent to serve high-risk families through the Nurse-Family Partnership home visiting program, according to an analysis by the RAND Corporation.

The new and second phase of grants authorized by the 2017 Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton includes more than $25 million for counties in both the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. This latest round of funding benefits 26 new counties and one tribal nation.

These grants follow a first round of $4.86 million in grants awarded in October 2017 that in the past year has supported planning, start-up and expansion of the programs in three tribal nations and 51 counties.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm plans to meet with several home visiting program operators this summer and fall.

"We are thankful for the partnership of state legislators and local public health organizations in delivering these services," Malcolm said. "The evidence is clear that family home visiting programs can help at-risk kids get a healthier start, and I look forward to traveling to meet with grantees and learn more about their efforts to benefit families and communities around the state."

Many of the grantees consist of partnerships of multiple agencies or counties working together and providing services within their communities under one grant award.

More information about family home visiting is available on the MDH website at Family Home Visiting Program.

The recipients

Recipients of phase two grants include:

• Bois Fort Band of Ojibwe, receiving $634,000

• Carlton-Cook-Lake-St. Louis Community Health Board, receiving $2.1 million

• Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio Inc. (CLUES), receiving $791,000

• Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Isanti, Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Bloomington, Edina, Richfield, Scott and Dakota counties, receiving $8.5 million

• Brown, Nicollet, Le Sueur, Watonwan, Waseca, Faribault and Martin counties, receiving $2.5 million

• Headway Emotional Health Services, receiving $473,000

• Hennepin County, Ahavah BirthWorks, Catholic Charities, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and St. David's Center, receiving $2.1 million

• Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership Inc., receiving $1.3 million

• City of Minneapolis, Hennepin Healthcare's Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association and Goodwill Easter Seals, receiving $1.1 million

• Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center and the Division of Indian Work, receiving $824,000

• Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Rice counties, receiving $4.2 million

• Way to Grow, receiving $815,000

MDH is also awarding $392,443 in planning grants to four communities. Recipients include:

• Countryside Community Health Board, receiving $133,000

• Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services, receiving $61,000

• St. Paul-Ramsey Community Health Board, receiving $119,000

• WellShare International Inc., receiving $79,000