New Haven Healthy Start


We're glad you're here. If you're interested in creating a community of healthy families and successful births, you're in the right place. 

Thanks to all who celebrated the 20th anniversary of New Haven Heathy Start with us!

Our Goal

New Haven Healthy Start helps pregnant women and mothers deliver healthy and happy babies. Our primary goal is to reduce the infant mortality and morbidity rate in the City of New Haven. 

The program began in 1997, when The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven received its first federal Healthy Start grant to begin addressing New Haven’s high infant mortality rates. New Haven Healthy Start is the only Healthy Start program in the country to be a program of a community foundation. 

Since its inception, New Haven Healthy Start has received $22.6 million in federal grant funding, most recently a $5.7 million award to support the program from 2014 to 2019. 

New Haven Healthy Start knows that one of the best ways to ensure healthy birth outcomes is to support pregnant women, mothers and their babies with a strong support network in their community. You can help  at-risk moms and their babies by joining the Baby Buddy Program. For more information contact Kenn Harris, Program Director.

In two decades of New Haven Healthy Start . . . 

  • More than 13,000 pregnant women have received care coordination services
  • More than 9,000 infants have secured medical homes in primary care centers
  • All prenatal women enrolled in the program receive a comprehensive risk assessment 
  • Two decades of building its Consortium and Perinatal Partnership has increased partner and participant engagement
  • The perinatal health system in New Haven is strengthened 


Then, Now & Beyond:
A 20-Year look at how New Haven Healthy Start works

New Haven Healthy Start’s mission is to reduce infant mortality and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes. It strengthens the entire health system for women and babies through its care-coordination service model. Care coordinators are located at Yale New Haven Health, Fair Haven Community Health Center, Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, and the homeless agencies Christian Community Action and New Reach, Inc.  LEARN MORE

Who We Are

New Haven Healthy Start (NHHS)

NHHS is a federally-funded urban health initiative that focuses on infant mortality and the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes.  It is supported by the federal grant (H49MC00095) from the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Division of Perinatal Health Systems. The Black infant mortality in New Haven is 2.5 times the rate of White infants, paralleling that of the US.  By targeting the leading causes of infant mortality, low birth weight and prematurity/pre-term birth, NHHS has been successful in addressing infant mortality for more than a decade. Download New Haven Healthy Start's full federal grant application here.   

For more information about New Haven Healthy Start, please contact one of the staff members below:

Kenn Harris, Director of New Haven Healthy Start
Natasha Ray, Core Services Manager
Cynthia Chan, Program Assistant

How New Haven Healthy Start Works

New Haven Healthy Start provides a continuum of improvements to a fragmented maternal and child healthcare system using a care coordination model. The model is exemplary in its comprehensive approach to maternal and child healthcare. Components of the model are extensive:

  • referrals to medical facilities;
  • case management and outreach;
  • a networked data system accessible to all service providers;
  • an examination process for all infant and fetal deaths;
  • a collaborative to improve racial disparity and birth outcomes;
  • a consortium made up of health officials and Healthy Start consumers.

The program is run through a large network of State-wide and local partners, including: Connecticut’s Department of Public Health, The New Haven Health Department, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, Fair Haven Community Health Center, New Haven Family Alliance (Male Involvement Network), and New Reach Inc.

New Haven Healthy Start's Focus & Facts

New Haven Healthy Start is focusing its efforts in the African American population, in which the infant mortality rate is higher than any other race in New Haven. The program looks at all factors influencing birth outcomes, including racial and ethnic health disparities. Research shows that there are significant racial and ethnic health disparities in New Haven within concentrated geographic areas, particularly New Haven's low-income neighborhoods. 

The Stats:

  • Since its inception in 1997, NHHS has continued to grow and has served almost 16,000 participants and more than 8,000 infants by providing them with care coordination services;
  • All prenatal and interconception women enrolled in the program receive a universal comprehensive risk assessment to determine medical/prenatal risk as well social risk (housing, food security) and behavioral risk (smoking, alcohol or drug use);
  • NHHS delivers a seamless system of care that facilitates referrals that are systemically tracked and monitored to ensure follow-through, resulting in better outcomes;
  • Approximately 80% of program participants are residents of New Haven
    while the remaining 20% are from various other surrounding towns including West Haven, East Haven & Hamden;
  • Healthy Start program participants have better birth outcomes than the broader community as measured by infant mortality rates and incidence of low birth weight babies. The overall infant mortality rate among program participants from 2005 to 2009 is 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live births (the average yearly IMR from 2005 to 2009 is 3.8), while the 2008 rate for the city of New Haven was 15.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. The percentage of low birth weight infants born to program participants during 2009 was 6% compared to 11.1% of births to New Haven residents in 20081;
  • African American women living in New Haven are 2.5 times more likely to experience an infant death and are also more likely to have preterm and low birth weight babies.

The cost of Preterm Birth and Low Birth Weight

  • It is estimated that the average cost of caring for a preterm baby in the NICU is a catastrophic $79,000. In comparison, the average hospital charge for providing care to a healthy newborn is $1,5002;
  • Low birth weight children are 50% more likely than normal birth weight children to need special education programs. It is estimated that the special education cost per pupil is $3,5553;
  • Low birth weight children are also more likely to repeat a grade in school. It has been estimated that the average cost of repeating a grade in school per pupil is more than $4,000.3

1 Data on city-wide mortality and birth weight comes from CT Department of Public Health, Vital Statistics.
2 March of Dimes Peristats:
3 E. Lewit, L Baker, H Corman, P. Shiono, The Direct Cost of Low Birth Weight. The Future of Children Brookings Institute (1995)

NHHS Consortium/Community Action Network

NHHS Consortium/CAN hosts meetings every other month where New Haven residents, healthcare providers, mothers, fathers, and caregivers create a network of community support around the issues of health equity and infant mortality. The meetings give an opportunity to engage in discussions around barriers to quality healthcare, share resources, and advocate for changes to improve the health and wellbeing of our community. Everyone is welcome. Please join us and be a part of a movement that believes all children and their families can thrive.

2017 Meeting Schedule

Wednesday, April 19, 4:00 - 6:00pm (rescheduled from March)

Location: The Community Foundation, 70 Audubon St. New Haven.

Wednesday, May 17, 4:00 - 6:00pm 
Location: TBD 

Wednesday, July 19, 4:00 - 6:00pm
Location: TBD 

Wednesday, September 20, 4:00 - 6:00pm
Location: TBD

Wednesday, November 15, 4:00 - 6:00pm
Location: TBD


The Men's Consortium

The Men's Consortium was established by the New Haven Healthy Start program as a gathering place for resources, networking and support for men and fathers in Greater New Haven. A local consortium of program participants, residents, health care providers, community organizations, state and local governmental agencies and other stakeholders has great potential to create community-based solutions.

Check out this video from Consortium member and spoken word artist Danté Simmons.


The Men's Consortium meets on a periodic basis at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Call 203-777-7086 or email for information about meetings and transportation.  

Reconnecting men and fathers to families and communities

Congratulations to New Haven Healthy Start for being recognized for its participation in the national Fatherhood Buzz Initiative.

Men's Consortium meeting, February 2017

Men's Consortium meeting, February 2017. Photo by Kenn Harris

2017 Men's Consortium Meeting Schedule


Thursday, April 27, 5:00 - 7:00 pm 
Location: TBD

Thursday, June 22, 5:00 - 7:00 pm 
Location: TBD

Thursday, August 24, 5:00 - 7:00 pm 
Location: TBD

Thursday, October 26, 5:00 - 7:00 pm 
Location: TBD

The Baby Buddy Program

New Haven Healthy Start knows that one of the best ways to support pregnant women, mothers and their babies to ensure healthy birth outcomes is to create a strong support network in their community.

If you are a New Haven neighborhood resident, you can help  at-risk moms and their babies by joining the Baby Buddy Program. For more information contact Kenn Harris, Program Director at or 203-777-7080.

History of New Haven Healthy Start

New Haven Healthy Start was an outgrowth of the work of the Commission on Child and Infant Health, which was convened by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in 1985. The Commission was formed to address the high infant mortality and morbidity rates in New Haven and was a collaboration between health officials, community leaders and child care advocates. Its work provided the base for The Community Foundation’s application for federal funding for a Healthy Start program in New Haven. Since receiving its first Federal grant in 1997, the New Haven Healthy Start (NHHS) team has successfully implemented all core services for a federal Healthy Start program.

LunchTALK series

Join Us for a LunchTALK or a MorningTALK

We are excited to start off 2017 and NHHS 20th Anniversary Year with a three-part #LUNCHTALK! series. 

Viewing of the Documentary 13th
February 9, 16 and 23, 2017
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
The Community Foundation 
70 Audubon St., New Haven

Join us to view 13th by filmmaker Ava DuVernay as she explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. The film will be viewed in three sections as it is a two hour #documentary. Open discussion to follow each viewing.

Seating is limited and lunch is provided; please RSVP via email to Cynthia or call 203-777-7086 with which session(s) you would like to attend.

More details on the 2017 MorningTALK and LunchTALK series schedule coming soon

Thursday, March 23, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Thursday, April 20. 11:00 am - 1:00 pm 

Thursday, April 27, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Thursday, May 25, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm 

Grants awarded

New Haven Healthy Start awarded grants to the following organizations in 2016-2017:

  • New Haven Health Department
  • Yale New Haven Hospital
  • Hill Health Center
  • Fair Haven Community Health Center
  • New Reach, Inc.
  • Christian Community Action, Inc.
  • New Haven Family Alliance

Health Equity Summit


New Haven Healthy Start and the City of New Haven hosted national leaders on health disparities at the New Haven Health Equity Summit on October 22, 2015. 

16th U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher at the New Haven Health Equity Summit

Healthy families need healthy men 

While health care spending is at an all-time high, the health system is failing young African American men, according to a March, 2015 commentary published in The Journal of American Medical Association. Co-authored by New Haven Healthy Start Director Kenn Harris and Boston Medical Center research physicians, the opinion piece offers analysis and recommendations for how the medical field can better meet the needs of African American men.

Research Partnerships

Since 2008, Natasha Ray, New Haven Healthy Start Core Services Manager, and physician researchers from the Yale Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program (YRWJFCSP) have partnered on a series of research projects to address maternal health issues in New Haven. 

An opportunity arose between these two long standing research partners to gain a greater understanding of and enhance the experiences of other community leaders (including other Healthy Start Programs) and university researchers in collaborative relationships. The result is this guidebook of best practices in community partnered research.

Did you know?

New Haven Healthy Start runs risk assessments among its mothers, including screening for depression, and collaborates with New Haven Mental Health Outreach for Mothers (MOMS). MOMS received a $2.5 million, five-year grant that pays for therapy groups at public housing, community ambassadors who facilitate empowerment groups, and a public awareness effort to undo the stigma that prevents mothers from seeking help for mental health.


You can support the work of New Haven Healthy Start by making an online contribution and providing new, disposable diapers to help New Haven Healthy Start families. For diaper drop- off information, please call the NHHS Program Assistant at 203-777-7086.


70 Audubon Street
New Haven, CT 06510



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