The National Healthy Start Association’s 16th Annual Spring Conference, Babies, Families, Communities: Moving From Volume to Value, was held in Washington, D.C., February 28 – March 3, 2015. Magnolia Project staff and Board member Joy Burgess attended the three-day conference.
The conference provided an array of information and strategies to help communities prevent infant mortality and promote the health of families. Debra Frazier, NHSA Chief Executive Officer, provided a warm welcome to the conference attendees. Dr. Michael Lu, MD, Associate Administrator of Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, provided an Overview of Healthy Start: How the National Healthy Start Association and Healthy Start Programs can work to build capacity and success for Healthy Start programs in population based health. During his presentation, Dr. Lu reviewed the current HRSA Healthy Start benchmarks and opened the floor for comments and remarks about them. Additionally, Johannie G. Escarne, MPH HRSA Project Officer for the Magnolia Project presented information related to the number and locations of all Federal Healthy Start Projects across the United States.
The Magnolia Project team attended several breakout sessions that included:
- The Value of Investing in Healthy Black Mothers
- Community Health Workers- A Bright and Better Future in Healthcare
- “Yes” to Fatherhood: Now Let’s Talk Value- HRSA Male Involvement Program
- Collective Impact – Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive,
- SISTERS UNITED: Safe Sleep community based program model using sororities and public health to address disparities
- Monitoring Child Development: Practical Tools from the “Learn the Signs. Act Early” Program
- Building an Economy on Love – Social Enterprise and Business Approaches to Advance Social and Human Justice Agendas
- Adolescent Health- An Overlooked Approach to Improving Perinatal Health: Pregnancy Planning and Prevention.
Marsha Davis and Anna Matthews represented Florida as National Healthy Start Choir members during several song selections.
One of the lunchtime plenary sessions, Reframing Human Services, Renewing Understanding and Support, discussed the importance of telling the Healthy Start story in a very different way. The speakers discussed research by the Frameworks Institute and ways in which the human services sector can apply this research in reframing its messages in ways that build public will to improve outcomes for children, families, and the communities we serve.
Board member Joy Burgess attended The Congressional Breakfast which was held on day three of the conference. During this session Congressman and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield described the state of the current economy and the threat of sequestration and cuts to vital programs that could negatively impact Healthy Start families nationally. He indicated that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was in the process of preparing an alternate budget that would focus on increasing economic opportunities through robust investments in education, infrastructure, affordable housing, small businesses and job training, while protecting and enhancing safety net programs to ensure that no community in America is left behind.
Ronald Smith, Director of Legislative Affairs, American Public Health Service Association, stressed the importance of meeting with legislators who may not be as supportive of Healthy Start priorities, rather than preaching to the choir (meeting only with Legislators who already support Healthy Start).
The Magnolia Project team visited Capitol Hill and met with aides to Congresswoman Corrine Brown and Senator Bill Nelson. The project team discussed the importance of increasing Federal Healthy Start funding, provided local and national infant mortality data and the impact of the Federal Healthy Start programs in the lives of babies. Prior to ending the meetings with both offices, project team members asked what should be emphasized during our advocacy work in Florida. The resounding answer was the need to expand Medicaid in Florida.