News Local/State

‘Healthy Beginnings’ Brings Health Care To New Families

CU Healthy  Beginnings website

CU Healthy Beginnings

When it comes to improving public health, the most effective interventions begin early in life. That’s why a team of health workers in Champaign-Urbana is reaching out to disadvantaged families, starting at pregnancy.

The Healthy Beginnings program launched last October. Since then, about 90 families have enrolled to receive free services, which include in-home visits with nurses and social workers who provide support and increased access to health care services throughout the prenatal and early childhood period.

Julianna Sellett is the vice president of community health initiatives with the Carle Foundation, which is behind the program. She said the idea is that to improve the overall health of an entire community, you have to start with individual families.

“It is really taking care outside our walls and really meeting people where they're at,” Sellett said.

The program is based on a national evidence-based model known as the Nurse-Family Partnership

“It was important to us that whatever we were doing had long-term impact,” Sellett said. “And children that have been in the Nurse-Family Partnership and their families have demonstrated that by the time they're in 3rd grade, they're still performing at a much higher level than peers.”

Healthy Beginnings also helps connect family members with other resources in the community to help with any other needs they may have, including for housing, jobs, or education. The team partners with other agencies and organizations that provide addiction services, and support for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Sellett said the demand for the program has been greater than anticipated. The program continues to receive an average of 10 new referrals a week.

More information can be found at the Healthy Beginnings website.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman