Feds Spending $82 Million 'Eliminating Disparities in Perinatal Health'

Penny Starr | December 10, 2013 | 3:12pm EST
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(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) — Congress approved and now Health and Human Services (HHS) will be distributing a total of $82 million to a wide range of government, academic and non-profit organizations for programs that will "reduce disparities in infant mortality and adverse perinatal outcomes.”

The grant funding, part of the “Healthy Start Initiative," is being administered through HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant funding was announced Dec. 5, with applications being accepted through Jan. 14, 2014. There are three grant announcements, valued at $51,750,000, $12 million, and $18 million.

The grant funding description states the five goals of the programs HHS wants developed:

Improving women’s health;
Promoting quality services;
Strengthening family resilience;
Achieving collective impact; and
Increasing accountability through quality improvement, performance monitoring, and evaluation.

CNSNews.com asked HHS to explain two of those goals — what does it mean to strengthen family resilience and how programs will be “achieving collective impact."

"Resilience refers to the ability of an individual, family, organization, or community to cope with adversity and adapt to challenges or change, which include for example, supporting mental and behavioral health care,” Martin Kramer, director of communications at HRSA, told CNSNews.com.

"Healthy Start grantees will support coordination, integration, and mutually reinforcing activities among health, social services, and other providers and key leaders in the community in order to achieve collective impact,” Kramer told CNSNews.com.

CNSNews.com also asked how the beneficiaries of these programs will be identified.

"The Healthy Start program aims to reduce disparities in infant mortality and adverse perinatal outcomes,” Kramer told CNSNews.com. "Healthy Start grants are awarded to communities with rates of infant mortality at least 1½ times the U.S. national average and high rates for other adverse perinatal outcomes (e.g., low birth weight, preterm birth, maternal morbidity and mortality) in order to address the needs of high-risk women and their families before, during, and after pregnancy.

"Healthy Start works to reduce the disparity in health status between the general population and individuals who are members of racial or ethnic minority groups beginning with the  prenatal through two years after the end of the pregnancy,” Kramer said.

Kramer also confirmed that the funds were appropriated by Congress.

The estimated rate of infant deaths for the U.S. in 2013 is 5.9 out of 1,000 live births, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The list of entities eligible to apply for the grant funding is long and includes city or township governments; private institutions of higher education; Native American tribal organizations (other than federally recognized tribal governments); Special district governments; Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities; Native American tribal governments (federally recognized); Independent school districts; Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education; Public and state-controlled institutions of higher education; and state governments.

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