First Year Cleveland Picks Up Nearly $3 Million to Help Reduce Infant Mortality Rate

The World Bank, licensed under Creative Commons
First Year Cleveland announced yesterday that it has received substantial funding to continue reducing the infant mortality rate in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, “one of nine Ohio communities engaged through the Ohio Department of Medicaid to identify innovative projects that connect at-risk women and infants to quality health care and care management.” The Ohio Department of Medicaid has earmarked $2.9 million fund three major programs: 

Centering Pregnancy – a unique program that provides prenatal care and birth-related information and support to pregnant women in a group setting. The number of women participating in centering pregnancy is expected to increase to 375 women. Total amount: $760,000

Home Visiting Programs – through partnerships with MomsFirst, the Ohio Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative and other programs, first-time mothers receive valuable knowledge and support in such as prenatal care, breastfeeding, safe sleep and family planning. Total amount: $2 million

Local Fatherhood Initiatives - support and funding to target and teach new fathers how to care for their new babies. Total amount: $200,000
Another $500,000 of funding has been allotted by the City of Cleveland. Cuyahoga County has matched that amount given by the city.

First Year Cleveland was formed six months ago to address the infant mortality rate, defined by the CDC as “an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births” annually. In Cuyahoga County, the rate is 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. In Cleveland, the rate is more than twice the national average (6 per 1,000) at 13 per 1,000, on par with the West Bank and Malaysia.

“Nearly two years ago, city council became concerned about the rate. Councilman Joe Cimperman brought up the situation and wanted to boost the money. Last year, Council President Kevin Kelley decided it should be a priority and took it to the mayor,” City Council Chief of Communications Joan Mazzolini said over the phone. “Kelley brought together an advisory group composed of healthy centers, business leaders and others to sign an MOU.”

First Year is expected to work in tandem with MomsFirst, a non-mandatory program administered by the Cleveland Department of Public Health that visits women during their pregnancy, follows the children for the first two years, and identifies hotbeds for poor infant and early childhood health in the city.

First Year Cleveland is currently in the process of obtaining nonprofit status. Until then, they require an intermediary for basic functions like payroll. They are also looking for an executive director to lead the program.

Ohio ranked 3rd for highest infant mortality rate in the nation in 2010. The statewide rate has steadily dropped, but, as of 2015, Ohio remains in the top five.

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