Healthy Beginnings is a system of care implemented in early care and education settings in New Orleans, Louisiana. This unique, community-based model is a partnership between the Mary Amelia Center, Educare New Orleans, and Daughters of Charity. This program integrates early childhood education and child health services in a coordinated approach for young children in their families with a vision to support children’s continuing health and development as they prepare to become successful learners throughout life. This system of care will provide young children and their families with access to health care by connecting them to health insurance coverage, medical and dental homes, and other specialty care as needed. Modeled off a successful program at Educare Atlanta, this program includes 5 main components:
Health Navigation/Care Coordination
A Health Navigator from Daughters of Charity is physically located on site at Educare New Orleans. She works to identify health needs and potential barriers to address those needs. She also connects families to appropriate resources that support the child and family’s healthy development and monitors the outcomes of referrals to ensure delivery of services. She serves as the liaison between the family and the Medical Home.
This program includes both individualized and school wide health education. The Health Navigator will work with families to provide individual health education based on their specific needs. In partnership with the Health Navigator, Tulane Practicum Students will coordinate health workshops for families.
This project also includes the pilot testing of in-personal health education and sharing of information through a text-based platform.
Community Partnerships/Advisory Board
An Advisory Board will be convened that will represent a network of community organizations and will include members from the early childhood education, pediatric, behavioral health, and public health fields.
Multidisciplinary Team Approach
This process will enable early learning programs to identify high priority children and families who need additional support. The Health Navigator will participate as part of a multidisciplinary team including the child’s teacher, Family Advocate, and Behavioral Health/Social Emotional Development partners. The team will work together to coordinate referrals to early intervention, special education, or behavioral health supports. The Health Navigator will share recommendations to the child’s Medical Home.
The Mary Amelia Women’s Center team is leading the evaluation of the program and tying program components to child/family outcomes to determine progress and identify areas for improvement.