In Florida, we’ve had a special reason to celebrate Mothers’ Day every day for the last 30 years.
Our state’s landmark Healthy Start program, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary later this year, demonstrates Florida’s commitment to ensuring that every baby has a healthy start and chance to succeed in life — no matter where they live or who their parents may be. Florida Healthy Start creates community-level support systems for pregnant moms and babies, services not offered so comprehensively anywhere else.
Every day is the birth day for some 610 Florida babies. Healthy Start creates countless opportunities for new mothers, fathers and their babies to improve the odds for self-sufficiency, and pursue a successful future for their families.
It’s important to remember that we have the opportunity to measure our state’s success over a time frame of generations, not just years or fiscal quarters. Our most significant accomplishments are reflected each time a healthy child is born with a lifetime of success ahead of them.
As Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls recently said, “We believe that providing access to postnatal coverage for up to one year after the birth can significantly boost health outcomes for moms and their babies, and we know that healthy moms are better positioned to raise healthy and thriving children.”
Speaker Sprowls continues a bi-partisan commitment of Florida leaders to use facts in guiding policy decisions. His call to hold open the maternal care window from two months to one year is a smart investment that pays great dividends for decades ahead.
Infant mortality is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a community or society. Florida has made the right investment in Healthy Start. Over a single generation, Florida went from being a perennial national laggard at bottom of America’s infant mortality rankings to a national leader for healthy mothers and babies, reducing our state’s infant mortality rate by 32.6 percent since 1991.
Prevention initiatives like Healthy Start can save $10 for every dollar we invest. Remember this: It’s not what it costs, but what it saves.
We applaud Governor Ron DeSantis for recommending future investments in Healthy Start and look forward to the Legislature’s support in extending the successful track record of positive health outcomes and family-focused services to ensure healthy births.
Pregnant women can’t get these essential services anywhere else. Florida Healthy Start improves outcomes for a lifetime, and positions children and their families for increased opportunities for success. Let’s celebrate these achievements as we reap the emotional and economic benefits in the future.
Monica Figueroa King serves a President of the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions. Cathy Timuta is FAHSC’s Chief Executive Officer. For more information visit www.healthystartflorida.com.