Board members advocate for Healthy Start funding

Healthy Start Board members Karen Wolfson and Rev. Tom Rodgers advocated for continued support of the program at a hearing of the Duval Legislative Delegation on Monday.

Calling Healthy Start “the state’s flagship program for addressing infant mortality,” Ms. Wolfson underscored the cost-effectiveness of the initiative in avoiding costly NICU care.

Rev. Rodgers outlined the impact of funding cuts during the last legislative session. “The bottom line is that more than 1,300 pregnant women and infants will not get services this year as a result of budget cuts,” he stated, “This comes at a time when we are celebrating our success in reducing infant deaths in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida.”

Funding cuts threaten continued improvements in the health of mothers and babies, he said. Ms. Wolfson and Rev. Rodgers joined representatives from more than 70 organizations speaking at the annual legislative hearing. Healthy Start funding in Northeast Florida was cut by nearly $600,000 in 2011-12 as part of a $5.4 million reduction in statewide program funding.