Between 2014-2019, JSI established and operated a National Technical Assistance and Training (TTA) Center 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. Branded the Healthy Start EPIC Center, JSI provided comprehensive and innovative capacity building assistance to one hundred community-based grantees, nationwide. JSI developed and implemented a robust program designed to support grantees in achieving 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. Some of the Center highlights include:
Defined and Built Awareness for the Healthy Start Model
Based on discussions with program leadership, JSI understood the critical need to document the Healthy Start approach and to build awareness and assure fidelity of the approach. Key activities in support of raising visibility for the Healthy Start program included representing HS at the national table through membership on various national work groups; presenting and exhibiting at a national meetings; built relationships with Title V programs through regional meetings; and facilitated an abstract process providing support to grantees in submitting manuscripts for an MCH Journal Supplement Issue focused on Healthy Start. The published MCH Journal included 14 articles written by grantees, JSI staff, and Maternal and Child Health Bureau staff.
Document and Promote Model Effectiveness
JSI supported efforts to document and promote the HS model effectiveness. JSI incorporated a robust evaluation of all TTA provided as well as supporting a national data collection and evaluation initiative. Of most significance, JSI provided logistical support and subject matter expertise to the Healthy Start CoIIN, an advisory board of Healthy Start grantees, to develop a set of standardized screening tools and define expectations for care coordination/case management.
Build Capacity of Healthy Start Grantees
Critical to the success of the Healthy Start program is grantee implementation of evidence-based practices to achieve program objectives. JSI provided capacity building to grantees through various methods including:
- Hosted over 150 monthly webinars (all webinars were taped and posted to the Healthy Start website for download on demand;
- Matching new Project Directors with experienced project managers for mentoring;
- Facilitated a number of Peer Learning Network opportunities for HS programs for collective impact, quality improvement, fatherhood, certified lactation counselors, screening tool implementation, and leadership;
- Planned and conducting an annual 3-day conference and regional meetings;
- Provided subject matter experts for community workshops;
- Provided over 200 technical assistance requests;
- Awarding scholarships for certified lactation counselors and wellness certificates;
- Hosting 2 Project Management all-day workshops;
- Developing an eleven module online Healthy Start Community Health Worker Course based on research conducted with grantees and input provided by an Advisory Group.
Create a Sustainable, National Home for Healthy Start Knowledge and Expertise for all Communities
JSI recognized the need to ensure that the resources of the HS EPIC Center were sustainable beyond the term of this project. We focused on building the knowledge base and hosting it on the HS EPIC website. The following content is included on the website: inventory of nearly 220 evidence-based practices to improve the health of women before, during and after pregnancy; inventory of over 150 archived webinars; interactive and searchable map with locations of all grantees; special initiative web pages with supporting TTA resources including: Alcohol and Substance Exposed Pregnancy Prevention Initiative – AStEPP, Healthy Living, Maternal Mortality Prevention, Breastfeeding, CAN and Collective Impact, and Fatherhood; meeting training packages providing short staff development activities; Community Health Worker Online Training Program; Project Management HUB (a dynamic repository of information and resources for Project Directors to manage their programs); and maternal and child health resources developed and/or vetted by JSI.