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The Healthy Births for Healthy Communities Project

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IDHFS) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) along with the Steans Foundation and other foundation partners came together in 2005 due to continued concern about the high rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes in North Lawndale and Austin. These two Chicago communities had been involved with a number of programs aimed at improving adverse pregnancy outcomes over the previous fifteen years including Families with a Future, Healthy Start, Closing the GAP, Family Case Management (FCM), and Targeted Intensive Prenatal Services (TIPS).

Data analysis conducted by IDHS revealed that women who received both FCM and WIC had better pregnancy outcomes than their non-engaged counterparts. In addition, although there had been numerous efforts focused on case management (e.g., Family Case Management, Healthy Start), no program specifically targeted hard to reach women in these communities to ensure that they were connected to FCM, WIC as well as prenatal care. Additional data analysis conducted by IDHS also revealed that multiparous women with an intrapartum interval of less than one year in Austin and N. Lawndale had the highest rates of very low birthweight (VLBW) and moderately LBW (MLBW) infants. However, no program in these two Chicago communities had been specifically targeted at the interconceptional period for women with a recent fetal loss or low birthweight birth, nor had there been intensive outreach to high risk pregnant women.

Given the two community needs described above, Healthy Births for Healthy Communities (HBHC) was launched with two components: a community outreach component and an interconceptional component. The HBHC outreach program, started in July 2006, was located in two community agencies (WACA-N.Lawndale, WHA-Austin) and targeted outreach to women for whom the current pregnancy was not their first and who had not been linked to FCM and/or WIC or prenatal care in their prior pregnancy(cies). The two community agencies hired outreach workers whose job it was to find these women in a variety of venues and connect them with Family Case Management and other services.

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