Healthy Start Celebrates 25 Years of Creating Community Leaders

Posted October 04, 2016 by Rachael Ruffin

Woman At Podium
Parents should be empowered to be community leaders who can present new information for others.
The role of leaders is not to get other people to follow them but to empower others to lead. – Bill George, Harvard Business School, former CEO of Medtronic

For 25 years, the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) has served as a leading voice in support of government policies and programs that serve pregnant women, babies, and families in vulnerable communities. NHSA works diligently to ensure optimal birth outcomes and elimination of disparities advocating for community-based services, such as outreach, home visitation, care coordination, health education, health and depression screening, and paternal engagement programs.

NHSA and Healthy Start programs across the nation take pride in their one of a kind approach to serving and working with communities. At first glance, Healthy Start may appear to be no different than other home visiting models or community-based interventions in maternal and child health. But what sets Healthy Start apart is the way it partners with its consumers – Healthy Start families who represent the strength and resilience in their communities. 

Connecting Community Members and National Leaders
Each year, NHSA hosts an annual conference on Capitol Hill to provide participants news about innovations, research and challenges relevant to Healthy Start. Healthy Start families share their stories to convey the need for and success of Healthy Start programs, and also meet with their Congressional representatives to detail challenges and solutions in their communities to gather additional support for the program. 

These consumers are the people who are best equipped to tell their stories. No one can provide more insight into events in our communities and how the programs work than the participants themselves. Acting as champions for their communities is a great responsibility, but it’s an important step in putting on our participants on the path to becoming leaders who can improve community health. 

From Community Member to Community Leader
Learning and sharing information in Healthy Start programs are not annual events. As Healthy Start families learn new information from their programs, they’re empowered to share lessons with family members, friends and their broader communities. A mom who has mastered breastfeeding might teach other new moms in their breastfeeding experience. A dad who has learned about bonding with babies could mentor young men as they become fathers. A family who has benefited from the program can become spokespeople, supporters and promoters for Healthy Start. In short, students become the teachers; followers are encouraged to become leaders.

NHSA and Healthy Start programs across the nation take pride in their one of a kind approach to serving and working with communities. Healthy Start uses home visiting models or community-based interventions for maternal and child health, but then sets itself apart by truly partnering with its consumers – Healthy Start families who represent the strength and resilience in their communities. 

Healthy Start staff members connect participants and communities by staffing project sites; serving as mentors; equipping clients with the tools needed to thrive in their communities; and empowering mothers, fathers and families. Healthy Start members go even further to empower everyone to take the lead in advocating for rights, for equity, and for optimal health for themselves, their families and communities. 

In its 25th year, Healthy Start celebrates the success it has in empowering women, men and families across the country to go from community members to true leaders who can advocate for changes they want to see to improve the health of their community.

Rachael Ruffin, MSPH, is a former NHSA program manager, who specializes in population and community-based health programs. 


Add your comment





infant health safe sleep IM CoIIN QI quality improvement flexibility family partner parent partner vision screening nichq perinatal quality measures sustainabilty preterm birth Baby-Friendly breastfeeding Pediatric journal Best Fed Beginnings tips PDSA cycle baby box infant mortality family engagement eccs coiin immunizations health equity health disparities accreditation astho onboarding collaboration engagement partnerships larc nashp new york wic new york state hospitals mom mother partners epilepsy data AAP early childhood pdsas texas community support learning session children's health new technology engineering transgender collaborative learning planning PDSA planning paralysis underplanning analysis paralysis vision eye health smoking smoke-free housing second-hand smoke toolkit e-module dental care oral health underserved populations health inequity public health Maternal and Child Health Journal leadership engagement Sickle cell disease indiana SCD medicaid perinatal regionalization sudden infant death syndrome national birth defects prevention month birth defects pregnancy planning one key question prepregnancy health preconception health public breastfeeding support families patients experts insights CHOPT childhood obesity innovation food desert telemedicine TBLC breastfeeding supporting prematurity racial disparities audiology ehdi follow-up illinois talana hughes vulnerable populations sports asthma soccer basketball obesity football SIDS Pokemon Go gamification smartphones interconception care birth spacing issue brief contraceptive use postpartum care CoIN HRSA early childhood trauma NHSA community health consumer advocacy womens health interconception health teenage health PATCH wisconsin missouri risk appropriate care community health workers SCD< infographic infant mortality awareness month inspirations childrens health national breastfeeding month maternal health patient engagement hearing loss hearing treatment pediatric vision eyesight pre-term birth early-term birth SCD clinic los angeles LOCATe CDC levels of care neonatal care maternal care smoking cessation project safe sleep practices neonatal abstinence syndrome NAS opioids maternal and child health MCH Family voices quality care mental health hydroxyurea SCDTDP men dads testing change data sharing state government city government apps sleep AJPM preconception care senior leadership breastfeeding support video series access BQIH exclusive breastfeeding long-acting reversible contraception unplanned pregnancies social determinants of health health innovations Best Babies Zone CoIIN baby boxes Rhode Island progesterone rooming-in patient and family engagement healthy weight healthy lifestyles primary care telementoring ECHO video conferencing socioemotional health childhood development pediatric Tennessee interview National Coordinating and Evaluation Center medical-legal partnerships mobile app disparities perinatal care overweight obese healthy weight clinic wellness pilot sites data collection education resources paternal engagement risk-appropriate care preterm infants high-risk babies Ten Steps public relations social movement reversible contraceptives medical home pediatric medical home patient transformation facilitator PTF skin-to-skin rooming in prenatal smoking information visualization charts SUID postpartum new mother webinar AMCHP QI Tips ongoing improvement fourth trimester partnership quality and safety coaching leadership support year end holiday message reflections gratitute Medicaid data doctor relationship PQC perinatal quality collaboratives vision care vision health evidence-based guidelines ASH health and wellness healthy living healthy eating home visitors home visiting programs March of Dimes APHA results evaluation supplementation formula reduction video infant loss social media advocacy leadership Berns Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding sustainability stress prenatal care data capacity epidemiologists surveillance data PFAC community partners preconception and interconception care motivational interviewing Native Americans ADHD NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale ADHD Toolkit system design care coordination skin to skin newborn screening reduce smoking aim statement safe birth Texas Ten Step skin-to-skin contact 10 Steps staff training small tests acute care mother-baby couplet collective impact population health preconception Newborn Screening Program substance abuse breast milk formula milk bank crisis first responders NYC improvement healthcare health system sickle cell diease treatment protocol family health partner maternity care Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network Health Outcomes Cross-Sector Collaboration Knowledge Sharing Child Health