Using Collective Impact to Reduce Infant Mortality in Baltimore City

Posted June 22, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
B'More for Healthy Babies is helping infants thrive in Baltimore City

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion spot­lights how a col­lec­tive impact approach has helped the B’more for Healthy Babies (BHB) ini­tia­tive improve the health and well-being of Bal­ti­more City families.

The approach — which involves blend­ing pub­lic invest­ments with pri­vate-sec­tor con­tri­bu­tions from foun­da­tions, busi­ness­es and non­prof­its — has helped pay for key ele­ments of the ini­tia­tive that would have oth­er­wise gone unfund­ed. These include: pub­lic edu­ca­tion cam­paigns, home-vis­it­ing pro­grams for preg­nant moth­ers, and col­lab­o­ra­tions with clin­ics and hos­pi­tals to make con­tra­cep­tion more acces­si­ble, accord­ing to the report, B’more for Healthy Babies: A Col­lab­o­ra­tive Fund­ing Mod­el to Reduce Infant Mor­tal­i­ty in Bal­ti­more.

Since its launch in 2009, BHB has helped the city’s infant mor­tal­i­ty rate fall by 35% and the dis­par­i­ty between African-Amer­i­can infant deaths and those of whites nar­row by 64%. The ini­tia­tive has also con­tributed to a 49% decrease in Bal­ti­more City’s teen birth rate, a 75% decrease in the black-white dis­par­i­ty in its teen birth rate and a 71% decrease in sleep-relat­ed infant deaths.

The report also shares lessons learned from the near­ly decade-long ini­tia­tive. These include:

  • Address­ing racial dis­par­i­ties in health, or in any oth­er sec­tor, requires a deep under­stand­ing of under­ly­ing sys­temic and his­tor­i­cal factors.
  • Fam­i­ly engage­ment efforts, includ­ing home vis­its, edu­ca­tion­al class­es and sup­port groups, must be led by trust­ed com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions and partners.
  • Strong col­lec­tive impact ini­tia­tives com­bine both pub­lic and pri­vate fund­ing sources. These arrange­ments allow for broad­er, more cre­ative approach­es and can lead to increased accountability.
  • Pri­vate fun­ders can play a key role in shap­ing and mov­ing a com­mu­ni­ty or pub­lic agenda.
  • Col­lec­tive impact ini­tia­tives ben­e­fit when part­ners estab­lish com­mon goals and remain trans­par­ent about the ways pub­lic fund­ing is being used to reach those goals.

The Casey Foun­da­tion is among a large group of part­ners work­ing to ensure more babies in Bal­ti­more City are born healthy and that their par­ents have the tools, resources and infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary to help their fam­i­lies thrive. Casey is a long­time fun­der of BHB, which has played a crit­i­cal role in strength­en­ing local health care and oth­er ser­vices. These con­tri­bu­tions include:

  • ensur­ing that all the city’s birthing hos­pi­tals offer stan­dard post­par­tum safe-sleep edu­ca­tion pri­or to discharge;
  • estab­lish­ing a pol­i­cy to pro­vide free portable cribs to par­ents who need them;
  • devel­op­ing a cen­tral­ized triage sys­tem to con­nect women to home-vis­it­ing pro­grams and pre­na­tal care; and
  • work­ing with hos­pi­tals and health cen­ters to have them offer the full range of con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods to all patients.

Learn more about BHB’s impact

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