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Healthy Start

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Signed into law in 1991, the Healthy Start initiative provides for universal risk screening for all of Florida’s pregnant women and newborn infants to identify those at risk of poor birth, health or developmental outcomes. Direct services are contracted through the Healthy Start Coalition of Bay, Franklin and Gulf Counties and provided through the Bay, Franklin and Gulf County Health Departments.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Bay County Healthy Start staff provide education, care coordination and support for pregnant women and infants up to three years of age. Our services include prenatal and childbirth education, breastfeeding education and support, car seat safety, smoking cessation, family planning education, parenting, immunization information, and psychosocial evaluations and referrals. Healthy Start services are free and voluntary. Support plans are based on the needs of the family.

The care coordinators provide services for pre-term babies as well as substance exposed infants as needed upon discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit. Our staff work collaboratively with Children’s Home Society and Children’s Medical Services to insure that these infants receive follow-up and developmental screening with intervention when necessary, up to the age of three years.

In addition, the Healthy Start care coordinators work in collaboration with private providers, Healthy Families, WIC, Bay District Schools, Family Advocacy at Tyndall AFB, the Pregnancy Center, Family Service agency, Salvation Army and Catholic Charities to reduce infant mortality and improve health outcomes.