Using Collective Impact to Reduce Infant Mortality in Baltimore City

Posted June 22, 2018
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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