Health Commissioner Unveils Statewide Initiative for At-Risk Babies

"As I Grow" Effort Will Help New Parents Understand, Enhance Infants' Developmental Stages

Albany, November 15, 2002 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. today unveiled an innovative program called, "As I Grow," aimed at guiding new parents through their babies' different stages of development during the first 24 months of life, and demonstrating simple and effective techniques parents can use to help their infants reach important developmental milestones.

The "As I Grow" package includes a videotape, workbook and helpful referral information for parents, along with letters from Governor George Pataki and Dr. Novello. Available in both English and Spanish, it will be distributed to 60,000 at-risk women through the State's Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP).

"A newborn is an unbelievable gift, and Governor Pataki and I are proud to be part of this crucial effort to ensure that our most vulnerable children get the best possible start in life," Dr. Novello said. "This videotape and information package was developed especially for our PCAP program, based on concerns expressed by new parents who aren't sure about why, what, when or how their infants should be progressing in their physical and mental abilities, and whether they can or should be doing more, as parents, to help their babies grow."

The videotape, developed for the State Health Department by the Easter Seals Society and the Society for Education and Rehabilitation (SER), takes new parents step-by-step through the first 24 months of life, from the time their child is born, until he or she enters the toddler years. Each developmental stage is fully and easily explained, as are the expected abilities for that particular age group. Parents are shown specific milestones and are taught things they can do to help babies acquire skills such as turning over, crawling, walking, learning to talk and feed themselves. The "As I Grow" initiative is based on a previous, successful project conducted by SER.

The State is purchasing 60,000 of the "As I Grow" packages from SER at a minimal cost for distribution to PCAP providers. Through a contract with SER, Procter and Gamble's "Pampers" products division has underwritten the major portion of the production cost.

About the Prenatal Care Assistance Program:

The Prenatal Care Assistance Program (PCAP) is a comprehensive prenatal care program that ensures access to the full range of health and related services necessary to enable low income and high-risk women to have the best possible pregnancy outcome. The comprehensive prenatal care standards developed for this program have become the standard of care for New York State. PCAP offers complete pregnancy care and other health care services at no cost, including:

  • Routine pregnancy medical check-ups;
  • Lab work, and access to specialists;
  • Hospital care during pregnancy and delivery;
  • HIV counseling and testing;
  • Help in applying for other programs such as WIC;
  • Full health care for new mothers until at least two months after delivery;
  • Family planning services; and
  • Health care for the baby for at least one year after birth.

PCAP services are provided through a network of approximately 165 hospital-based clinics, free-standing diagnostic and treatment centers, and county health department-based clinics across New York State. The program is open to all women, regardless of immigration status, with family incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.

11/15/02–125 OPA