Healthy Start redesign: A new journey to healthy birth outcomes

After 28 years, Healthy Start has a new look! The home visiting program for pregnant women and babies went through a redesign in partnership with the Florida Department of Health to strengthen and refine the program.

Since legislation passed in 1991, Healthy Start had taken into effect the goal of decreasing infant mortality rates and improving the health and well-being of women, infants, children and their families. While Florida has seen significant improvement in healthy birth outcomes in the course of those 28 years, we strive to continually reduce infant deaths while seeing higher rates in babies reaching a healthy first birthday and beyond.

In response, Healthy Start went through a complete remodel on March 1, 2019 that capitalized on its assets while shifting focus to creating links to the local system of care through Connect and strengthening women and family empowerment in our practices.

Since March, we have made improvements towards:
• Increasing access to care for families
• Focusing on specific risks that contribute to developmental delay and unhealthy birth outcomes
• Concentrating on crucial periods of maternal care (pregnancy, newborn and postpartum/interconception)
• Measuring evidence- and research- based outcomes
• Standardizing and structuring the consistency of the model and program intervention throughout Florida

Healthy Start participants often provide feedback that the relationship they have with their home visitor provides much needed support and resources. Healthy Start care coordinators want to help entire families achieve better health outcomes and will now work to strengthen family resilience with evidenced-based practices to achieve collective impact.

With stronger relationships and more structure in-house and throughout our communities, Healthy Start also addresses the social determinants of health. Through training staff and partners to focus on how we can impact and improve a participant’s social determinants of health, we expect to tackle all aspects throughout the life course that affect fetal/infant deaths and disparities in birth outcomes.

This new journey to a “Healthy Start” will continue to reach new heights and progress towards reducing infant mortality throughout Florida!