Healthy and happy children and families are at the very heart of everything we do at Family & Children’s Place, and much of it begins with ensuring babies are healthy at birth and during the first few years of their lives, so we are delighted to be part of a new coalition – Healthy Babies Louisville – working to improve infant health.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the coalition Tuesday during a presser at Norton & Women’s Kosair Children’s Hospital, and listed the group’s goals:
- Lower infant mortality rates
- Reduce the gap in infant mortality between black and white babies
- Increase access to prenatal health care
- Reduce smoking among pregnant women
- Decrease teen pregnancies.
“Health has been a top priority of my administration since day one,” said Fischer in a published WLKY report. “Good health for each person begins even before birth. It begins with a safe, healthy pregnancy. My goal is for every mom to have a safe pregnancy and every baby to get that healthy start. Healthy Babies Louisville unites some of our city’s best health care and social service agencies in a shared goal of improving infant health in our community.”
Others in the coalition, along with Family & Children’s Place, are: Baptist Health Louisville, Family Health Centers, Family Scholar House, Humana CareSource, Louisville Metro Department Community Services and Revitalization, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, Metro United Way, Norton Healthcare, Kosair Children’s Hospital, Passport Healthplan, the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work, Seven County Services, the Teenage Parent Program of Jefferson County Schools, the University of Louisville Hospital and Wellcare.
The agency has a critical role in the coalition through its HANDS (Health Access Nurturing Development Services). Through HANDS, family visitation workers meet with expectant and new parents to help give them the tools and training to raise the happiest and healthiest baby possible.
Family & Children’s Place President and CEO Pam Darnall serves on the Perinatal Infant Health Network, and Judi Steilberg, HANDS program director, and Liz Ferguson, vice president, government relations and planning, participate in several work groups. (Darnall and Steilberg are pictured above, at right, in photo.)
The real power behind the Healthy Babies Louisville coalition, though, is its collective impact. While each of the associated agencies brings its own body of knowledge and expertise to the effort, there is a common and aligned agenda, so efforts will be supportive and collaborative in nature, enhancing progress and advancement.
Immediate projects the coalition intends to tackle is reinstating the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Board to investigate the causes of fetal and infant deaths, increasing referrals to prenatal and perinatal services through the Metro United Way 211 call center and increasing access to mental and behavioral health services for families and children.
The 211 information line provides a one-stop resource for people and families who don’t know who to call. Call center operators will get the necessary info and then connect the callers with the appropriate sites and services.
It’s a great step forward for families and babies, and for the city of Louisville, demonstrating its care and commitment to its youngest and most vulnerable citizens.