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Florida's Healthy Start program is celebrating 30 years of success

healthy start deputy baby.jpg
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Healthy Start is a free home visiting program that provides education and care coordination to pregnant women and families with children younger than 3.

Florida's Healthy Start program is celebrating its 30th birthday. The effort to improve the lives of new parents and their babies is touting significant success.

There are 11 Healthy Start regions in Florida. Cathy Timuta, the coalition's executive director, says all of them have reason for celebration.

"Over the last 30 years, one of our biggest achievements with all of our partners across the state of Florida is the reduction of infant mortality by 32%," she says.

Timuta acknowledges the infant mortality rate for African American infants hasn't gone down quite as much but insists there are new initiatives to tackle that head-on. Made possible, she explains, by the help of Florida lawmakers during the 2021 legislative session.

"We received a generous influx of funding to help cover our Medicaid servicess so more families will be able to get services this year through Healthy Start. We do not have a legislative ask (for 2022," she says.

That's a timely development as many state-supported agencies are likely to request more money because of the greater service needs related to the COVID pandemic.

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