Great Beginnings for Black Babies, Inc.
Through a variety of creative and culturally relevant programs, Great Beginnings for Black Babies influences healthy birth outcomes by providing women with the proper tools to make informed health decisions for themselves and their families. In addition to healthy birth outcomes, our goal is promote the healthy development and growth of babies and children; and to promote healthy and strengthened outcomes for families. This also is our mission. Our programs include Black Infant Health (BIH), Healthy Moms and Babies (HMB), the Fatherhood Initiative (FI) and a Youth Education After School Program, which serves 200 children daily at two at-risk elementary schools.
WHAT MAKES THIS PROJECT A “POINT OF PROOF?”
Great Beginnings for Black Babies was founded in 1990, specifically to impact infant mortality in the African American community. At that time, 19 of every 1,000 Black babies were dying before their first birthday. In 2013, 13 of every 1,000 are dying. And while disparities still exist, Great Beginnings has impacted the lives of thousands of women and babies by encouraging healthy lifestyles devoid of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Through one program alone, more than 500 women annually are provided with case management services including assessments, referrals, home visitations, Social Support and Empowerment sessions, as well as health and nutrition education.
WHO PARTICIPATES IN THIS PROJECT?
Black Infant Health (BIH) serves over 500 pregnant and/or parenting African American women ages 18 years or older with children up to 18 months old. Healthy Moms and Babies (HMB) serves women of all ethnicities and ages (including teen mothers) with children up to age five. More than 200 men have participated in workshops and support groups of the Fatherhood Initiative, and 200 children are served daily in our school-based program. Eighty-nine percent of our female clients are single; 67% are not employed; 57% indicate their partner offers no emotional support and 59% report their partner has been in jail in the past three years.
HOW DOES THIS PROJECT DEFINE SUCCESS?
Participants in our BIH, HMB and FI programs generally come to us at very low points in their lives. In addition to their health issues, they also are presenting with socio-economic issues and sometimes mental health issues. We see our work as helping them become whole—whether it be referring them out for services or helping them locate employment, housing, insurance, etc. We define success when a client makes the effort to set goals and puts in the work to meet them. We have many client testimonies that confirm that what we’re doing is on point.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN THIS PROJECT IS SUCCESSFUL?
When a client keeps their prenatal visits, has a healthy baby, has a “normal” birth, initiates breastfeeding, enthusiastically participates in our Social Support and Empowerment sessions and other workshops, is in a healthy relationship, finds and retains housing, becomes gainfully employed or goes back to school to complete their education—these are the indicators that we use to measure success. We use entrance and exit interviews to determine client progress, as well as uploading this information into our Management Information System for further analysis. We also track clients for a minimum of 18 months, which includes home visits, a system which tells us that that clients in our programs are achieving significantly higher levels of success than those who were not. The goals that we set and that clients set for themselves were and are being met.
WHAT MAKES IT SUCCESSFUL?
A large part of success is contingent upon having passionate, dedicated staff with whom clients can positively interact and respond. Case management services are not successful if clients feel they are being judged and/or stereotyped. Many of Great Beginnings employees have experienced some of the same things our clients are going through and as a result are able to offer a level of sensitivity that may not otherwise be forthcoming. Clients sense a level of sincerity and a relationship is established in which the client benefits significantly. They tell us what they need and we listen and respond. Indeed, our client population significantly shapes the services we provide as we design programs around their needs. And despite the fact that, as with most social service programs serving communities of color, GBBB has been hard hit by funding cuts, our work remains respected throughout the community and Los Angeles County. This respect and our outcomes allow us to enjoy a mix of private and public funding that helps us to support families on the path to healthy lifestyles, which positively impacts the community overall.