Supporting Healthy Start Performance Project (SHSPP)

Geographic Scope: Nationwide

Client(s): Maternal and Child Health Bureau (within HRSA)

Services: Health Communication, Health Information Technology, Training & Technical Assistance, Applied Research & Evaluation

Technical Expertise: Maternal and Child Health


Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, the U.S continues to lag other industrialized countries on key indicators of health including infant mortality, low birth weight, and preterm births. The U.S ranked 26th compared with the richest 29 countries in the world for both infant mortality and low birth weight births. When compared to all countries, the U.S ranks 54th for preterm births. Furthermore, the U.S reports significant disparities with black women experiencing rates of infant mortality, low birth weight, and preterm deliveries nearly double those of Whites and Hispanics.

The purpose of this cooperative agreement—Supporting Healthy Start Performance Project (SHSPP)—is to provide support to Healthy Start (HS) grantees to ensure program effectiveness in achieving the goals to reduce infant mortality and health disparities, and improve perinatal health outcomes.

This project builds on JSI’s successful history of providing comprehensive and innovative capacity building assistance (CBA) to community-based grantees. JSI will measure project success by the degree to which grantees achieve core competencies essential for effective implementation of the HS model and institutionalize a culture of quality improvement and evaluation based on a foundation of documented program effectiveness.

JSI recognizes that our success depends on providing relevant, state of the science capacity building assistance to grantees as soon as possible. Rapid identification of capacity building priorities and needs is critical for grantees to receive needed assistance early in the implementation of their projects. To ensure that every CBA activity (e.g., training, individual technical assistance, learning collaborative, e-newsletter, website, etc.) meets needs, detailed requirements will be developed with input from MCHB, the JSI project team, Healthy Start grantees, and outside experts, as appropriate.

Requirements define the audience, purpose, learning objectives, content, deliverable date, responsible person or speaker(s), modality and contract resources. In addition, JSI will model quality improvement methods using the Plan-Do-Study-Act method with every CBA activity. CBA recipients will document the problem to be addressed, discuss the approach to addressing the problem, determine how success will be evaluated, and assess the effectiveness of the CBA provided in addressing the problem. By modeling QI methods with every CBA activity, JSI seeks to promote institutionalization of QI with HS grantees.

To further build capacity for program improvement, JSI will identify Level 2 or Level 3 HS grantees to co-facilitate every CBA activity. This individual will develop leadership skills as well as be mentored as a QI coach. S/he will participate in defining CBA requirements, documenting and evaluating the degree to which CBA is addressing the needs. A strong focus on data collection in support of local and national evaluation of the Healthy Start Program throughout the project period will reinforce the importance of contributing to the science of public health.

Learn more about the Healthy Start EPIC Center's impact on increasing breastfeeding efforts in the U.S.