New Haven Healthy Start

NHHS History and Impact

New Haven Healthy Start grew out of the work of the Commission on Child and Infant Health, convened by The Foundation in the mid 1980s. Since its founding in 1997, NHHS has been vital in reducing infant mortality rates in the region.

U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro (second from left) at the 2019 funding renewal announcement. Credit: Kathleen Cei

Our History

In 1985, The Community Foundation convened the Commission on Child and Infant Health to address alarmingly high infant mortality rates in New Haven, particularly among African Americans.

The collaboration between health officials, community leaders and child care advocates provided the base for The Community Foundation’s application for federal funding for a Healthy Start program in New Haven.

The program received its first grant and was launched in 1997. To this day, New Haven Healthy Start is one of only two Healthy Start programs in the country to be part of a community foundation.

Since its inception, New Haven Healthy Start has has successfully implemented all core services for a federal Healthy Start program. It has received $28.3 million in federal grant funding, most recently a $5.4 million award to support the program from 2019 to 2024.

Our Impact

In 25 years of New Haven Healthy Start . . .

  • More than 19,600 pregnant women have received care coordination services
  • More than 11,500 infants have secured medical homes in primary care centers
  • Infant mortality rates in New Haven have dropped by more than half.
  • All prenatal women enrolled in NHHS have received comprehensive risk assessments
  • The Consortium has increased partner and participant engagement


Prior to New Haven Healthy Start, one out of 50 babies in New Haven died within their first year of birth, an Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of more than 20 deaths per 1,000 live births. The IMR was 79% higher than the state average and 64% higher than the national average.


The IMR in New Haven has fallen to 7 deaths per 1,000 live births. For New Haven Healthy Start babies, the IMR is 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, or one out of 222.