Using Collective Impact to Reduce Infant Mortality 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.