Since the creation of Florida’s 32 statewide Healthy Start Coalitions in 1991, our state’s infant mortality has dropped by 35 percent due in part to the program’s comprehensive approach to prenatal and infant care and education.

Today, Healthy Start funding is in jeopardy due to proposed budget cuts. The potential impact on our community would be significant, threatening at-risk families’ access to Healthy Start services such as education and support for families including infant care and safe sleep, pregnancy care and preparing for baby’s arrival, screening and referrals for perinatal depression, substance abuse, child development, and much more.

During 2017 in Bay, Franklin and Gulf counties, our local Healthy Start office:

• Provided direct services to 1,708 pregnant women, 799 infants and children.

• MomCare assisted 1,563 pregnant women with access to prenatal care

• Hosted an annual baby shower with over 550 in attendance

• Brought an additional $206,229 in grant funding to provide additional needed services to local families, such as car seats, safe sleep cribs, Parents As Teachers (PAT) program

• Our partnership with the Children’s Advocacy Center enabled us to bring PAT to 50 families and increase our outreach to those most in need

Additionally, our local coalition participates in the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review, a program that works to reduce infant mortality by gathering data that helps us understand fetal and infant deaths in our community. With this information, we can identify gaps in services and work toward improving infant mortality locally and around the state. We also host an annual Walk to Remember supporting the families that have experienced a fetal or infant loss.

Healthy Start is a cost-effective model that contributes to Florida’s better birth outcomes. Every dollar the Florida Legislature invests in supporting Healthy Start has an incredible return on investment in costs saved from preventing death among infants and mothers by bridging the gap to prenatal care and education. The Healthy Start program does not charge any family to participate and it is not based on income or insurance status.

Elizabeth Moore

Board of Directors Chair

Bay, Franklin, Gulf Healthy Start Coalition, Inc.