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Healthy Start: Nurturing Health, Preventing Disparities

A healthy start for every baby begins with a healthy mother. The Healthy Start program works to improve health outcomes before, during, and after pregnancy.

What we aim to do

A woman holds a baby above her against a blue sky.

Enhance mothers' health

Improve the well-being of mothers who are expecting or have just given birth and their partners.

A laughing infant is held up by two arms.

Prevent infant death

Invest in communities with infant death rates that are 1.5x the U.S. national average or greater.

A smiling woman holds a newborn in front of her face.

Eliminate health disparities

Reduce racial and ethnic differences in rates of negative infant and maternal health outcomes.

Ensure everyone has the same access to care.

How we help women and their families

Local Healthy Start projects enroll women, their partners, infants, and children (up to 18 months). At the heart of the program lies a commitment to comprehensive care tailored to each person's unique needs.

Healthy Start projects treat their clients as individuals. A staff member interviews each new client to assess their health and social needs. Then the individual is matched with a care coordinator.

Access the 2024 Fact Sheet: Healthy Start (PDF - 643 KB) to get a quick overview of the program.

Value of a care coordinator

The care coordinator plays a critical role in guiding and supporting the participant. The care coordinator spends time with the client to understand their needs and will develop a personalized plan that can include: 

Clinical care and services: providing pregnancy and postnatal care, and doula services. 

Mental health and substance use screening: addressing mental health and substance use concerns, providing referrals, and connecting people to services. 

Health and wellness goals: helping participants in setting and achieving health and wellness objectives. 

Education: providing classes on a variety of topics like pregnancy and infant care, parenting, fatherhood, and nutrition.

Immunizations: education about preventing disease and connecting participants to vaccine services. 

Intimate partner violence screening: addressing relationship violence to ensure the safety and well-being of families. 

Service linkage: helping participants access other services such as transportation and housing.

The value of partnership: strengthening communities

Every Healthy Start program has a Community Consortium. This is a group of people invested in achieving a shared goal: creating an environment that supports maternal, infant, and family health and well-being. 

Members include participants in the program, community residents, faith-based leaders, Title V contributors, medical and social service providers, and public health professionals. The consortium members can influence policies and practices that lead to systemic improvements in their communities. 

By fostering partnerships with people in the community, Healthy Start projects use the community voices to drive improved birth and family health outcomes. 

By partnering, projects can:

  • Address gaps in service
  • Create services that consider different cultures and languages
  • Increase awareness of infant health issues
  • Focus on other factors that affect health like steady income, transportation, education, and housing

Who else do awardees work with?

These collaborations create a network that enhances health care access and quality for mothers and their babies.

How is Healthy Start different from the Home Visiting Program?

The Healthy Start and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (known as Home Visiting) both reach pregnant women and families. But, they differ in terms of both funding and approach.

How we gather data and track progress

We work with our awardees to collect data. That includes data related to the project and anyone who participates. This helps us monitor and evaluate activities.

How can I access the data?

We use the Healthy Start Monitoring and Evaluation Data System. Read the evaluation reports:

Where awardees can go for data and training

Training: Healthy Start EPIC Center
Data: CAREWare for Healthy Start database

Get details about recent awards

Closed Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs)

Healthy Start Initiative—Enhanced

Healthy Start Supplement: Community Based Doulas



Contact us

Email Benita Baker, MS
Healthy Start Branch Chief

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