State Health Accepting Applications for $2.1 Million to Increase Access to Prenatal and Postpartum Services

Supports Maternal, Child and Family Health

Albany, N.Y. (Nov. 21, 2007) - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines M.D. today announced $2.1 million in funding to support the Welcome Baby! Universal Prenatal and Postpartum Home Visiting program that promotes maternal, child and family health. The Department is now accepting applications from local health departments, community groups and healthcare providers. The funding will provide home visits, basic health education and referrals for needed services for pregnant and postpartum women.

"This funding continues to build on our commitment to further improve women's access to prenatal and other health and supportive services, making a positive difference in the health and lives of their babies," said Dr. Daines, "The Welcome Baby! Program is part of a statewide strategy for improving birth outcomes."

The Welcome Baby! Program is unique because it builds on existing home visiting programs and begins home visiting earlier in pregnancy to ensure that pregnant women enter prenatal care in the first trimester and receive the support they need to have healthy babies. Home visits also assess family needs and provide service referrals. Additionally, birth record reviews and hospital based visiting are effective ways of identifying families in need, and reach families at risk who may decline home visiting and other program services.

Although great strides have been made in the area of perinatal health, significant issues still remain. Although the infant mortality rate has steadily declined in New York State, in 2005 the rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births is above the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention Healthy People 2010 goal of 4.5 deaths per 1,000 births. Data also shows that high risk and minority women have significantly poorer birth outcomes than non-minority women, and the disparities in outcomes are often significant.

The State Department of Health has developed a comprehensive strategy for improving birth outcomes through a variety of measures which include local community outreach and education efforts as well as advocacy and at-home visits. Recognizing home visiting programs in existence in New York State that are currently serving the target population, this initiative will focus on outreach and identification of pregnant and postpartum women not already engaged in care who could benefit from home visiting and other supports and services

"These services will help improve access to comprehensive family health services, especially for those women who, otherwise, would have difficulty obtaining these important services," said Dr. Daines. "Helping our children get a healthy start in life is also creating greater opportunities for them to excel personally, socially and academically."

For more information about the Request for Applications (RFA) please visit the state Health Department Web site at www.health.ny.gov.