Healthy Start 3.0 focuses on five pillar approaches: Improve women’s health; Promote quality services; Strengthen family resilience; Achieve Collective Impact; and Increase accountability through quality improvement, performance monitoring and evaluation. Each approach is briefly described below and links to more detailed information on the associated benchmarks and resources.
The Healthy Start performance measures describe and quantify key aims of the Healthy Start program around factors and practices that contribute to good pregnancy outcomes and healthy mothers, infants and families. This toolkit is designed to help Healthy Start programs enhance their capacity to meet their goals related to each of the Healthy Start performance measures. The toolkit includes a self-assessment tool that Healthy Start programs can use to assess the degree to which they are meeting their own goals related to key Healthy Start aims, and resource sheets for selected performance measures that summarize recommended strategies and a selection of resources and evidence-based practices to aid Healthy Start programs in supporting the women families and communities they serve.
The life course perspective, MCH research and experience from the field all point to the importance of improving women’s health before, during and after pregnancy as a means to improve perinatal outcomes and reduce infant mortality. To improve women’s health Healthy Start programs assess participants’ needs and work to ensure their access to comprehensive medical, social, behavioral, educational, and support services. Healthy Start also supports prevention and health promotion for women and families, including access to clinical preventive services, attention to pre/interconception health and reproductive life planning, and provision of health education.
Healthy Start works to ensure access to and delivery of high quality health and social services to women, infants and families by providing case management and care coordination to participants, and supporting systems integration on the community level. Healthy Start programs utilize evidence-based curricula and interventions to provide health education and health promotion in the required areas of breastfeeding, immunization, safe sleep, family planning and tobacco cessation, well-woman and well-child care.
A focus on engaging both parents in the future of their child, and on strengthening family resilience helps address to some degree the toxic stress that underlies many disparities in birth outcomes. Healthy Start programs promote father involvement both before and after the baby is born, provide parenting support and education, utilize a trauma-informed approach to care, and strive to support the mental and behavioral health of mothers and families.
Healthy Start programs lead and participate in community collaboration, information sharing and advocacy through Community Action Networks (CAN) which involve Healthy Start participants, community-based organizations, providers and community leaders in efforts to strengthen community service systems and address social determinants of health. The Collective Impact framework is used to facilitate community collaboration to address specific social problems.
Healthy Start programs work to enhance their services and increase their impact on participant health outcomes by systematically monitoring their performance, and engaging in quality improvement efforts informed by participant-level, program-level and community-level data.