This article discusses how community involvement is incorporated into Healthy Start, a major initiative to reduce infant mortality in selected communities with disproportionately high levels of infant mortality. Based on site visits to each of the fifteen original Healthy Start project areas, we discovered that two main community involvement strategies were used: a service consortium model and a community empowerment model. In the service consortium model, the community is involved primarily through a consortium of local providers, other professionals, and some governmental representatives who help to plan services. The community empowerment model involves the community by engaging neighborhood-based groups, contracting with community-based organizations, employing community residents as lay workers in the Healthy Start program, and creating other economic development initiatives. Important lessons drawn from this study are that the purpose and commitment to community involvement is not always clear; that it is difficult to involve community residents; that efforts to involve the community are extremely labor intensive; that given monetary incentives, it is easier to involve community providers than residents; that community involvement may conflict with efficient program operations; that increased community involvement may create program goals that differ from the program’s original goals; and that community involvement may slow program development.
Back to the Future: Community Involvement in the Healthy Start Program
Embry M. Howell, Barbara Devaney, Marie McCormick, Karen Thiel Raykovich; Back to the Future: Community Involvement in the Healthy Start Program. J Health Polit Policy Law 1 April 1998; 23 (2): 291–317. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-23-2-291
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