In the late 1980s, then-President, George H.W. Bush launched a task force to tackle infant mortality rates in the United States. By 1991, Healthy Start began with a goal to reduce infant mortality by 50% in five years. Fifteen sites with infant mortality rates 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than the national average were selected to conduct demonstration projects. These programs were funded to be innovative and community-driven, tasked with reducing infant mortality and improving the health and well-being of women, infants, and their families.
The program grew and welcomed 40 new project sites in 1997, which was the first year that the Health Care Coalition of Southern Oregon was funded for Healthy Start. We have been awarded this grant each award cycle since that time, with services being directed throughout areas of Southern Oregon.
The Healthy Start program has continued to grow and change. There are now 101 Healthy Start sites across the country in urban, rural, border, and tribal communities that have infant mortality rates of 1.5 times the national average.
The purpose of the Healthy Start (HS) program is to improve health outcomes before, during, and after pregnancy, and reduce racial and ethnic differences in rates of infant death and adverse perinatal outcomes.