Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. DeLauro announce $5.5 million for New Haven Healthy Start

Funding aims to improve infant and maternal health

New Haven, Conn. (June 3, 2024) – As a new father, Robert Farrow Jr. knew that New Haven Healthy Start was in his corner, whether it was help with getting diapers or with navigating the hospital bureaucracy for his wife’s medical appointments during COVID restrictions.

“Speaking as a father in the New Haven area, it’s great to know that there are people who are going to support you when you are at your lowest,” Farrow said. “I was always able to pick up the phone to Healthy Start.”

Robert Farrow Jr. and daughter Harmony.

Farrow and his daughter, Harmony, were joined by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for the announcement of $1 million in federal funding for The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s New Haven Healthy Start program. The award is part of a five-year, $5.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and will be used to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities. The $1 million is the first allotment of the award to New Haven Healthy Start; the future funding, while expected, is subject to future Congressional appropriations.

“This is an investment, but it is only a down payment. We need to do much, much more,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “New Haven is showing that these programs work and that we should invest in them.”

Blumenthal noted that while infant mortality rates have fallen, maternal mortality rates during and after childbirth are rising in the United States.

“It’s a national scandal,” Blumenthal said.

Healthy Start focuses on improving the well-being of expecting mothers and those who have just given birth, addressing community needs in communities with infant mortality rates that are 1.5 times the national average or greater, and combatting the disparities in outcomes that have resulted in higher mortality rates for Black and Indigenous women and infants of color. Healthy Start programs support culturally responsive health care services, food assistance, emergency supplies, transportation to care, housing navigation and other critical social services. Healthy Start also supports clinical service providers and other key members of the workforce. 

We’re not going to rest until every child born in this city is able to grow up strong and healthy so they can reach their full potential — not just survive, but be able to thrive.

Rosa DeLauro / U.S. Representative, Conn.

Founded in 1997, New Haven Healthy Start provides a continuum of services to pregnant women, mothers, fathers and their infants to ensure healthy birth outcomes. Infant mortality rates in New Haven have dropped by more than half since New Haven Healthy Start’s founding, from more than 20 infant deaths per 1000 live births to just over 10 per 1000.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro praised New Haven Healthy Start’s achievement in cutting the infant mortality rates in New Haven, noting that the program has served more than 19,600 pregnant  women since its inception.

“For so many families in New Haven, grief and fear have given way to joy, hope, and healthy, thriving children,” said DeLauro. “I do not take the progress that New Haven has made in saving children’s lives lightly. I will continue to support this program with every ounce of energy I have. We’re not going to rest until every child born in this city is able to grow up strong and healthy so they can reach their full potential — not just survive, but be able to thrive.”

New Haven Healthy Start Director Natasha Ray.

New Haven Healthy Start Director Natasha Ray thanked DeLauro and Blumenthal for their advocacy for funding the work to address racial and ethnic health disparities in maternal and child health and strengthen the maternal and child health system.

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work of our team, the strength of our proposal and our partnerships, and most importantly, our congressional support and leadership,” Ray said.

The Community Foundation President and CEO Will Ginsberg said New Haven Healthy Start is one of the most important and enduring programs in New Haven.

“This program reflects this community’s belief that building a stronger, more equitable and more humane community starts with a healthy start for the youngest New Haveners and their moms,” said Ginsberg.  “It is a reflection of who we are and what we value here.”