For parents everywhere, providing a safe and healthy environment for their child to grow up in is an essential goal. But for parents in Baltimore's most economically depressed and physically distressed neighborhoods, building such an environment and providing for the well-being of their kids can seem like an insurmountable task.
But now help is available to these families through a unique collaborative effort known as Baltimore's Success by 6 Partnership, an initiative designed to give children healthier starts in life.
Success by 6 brings together human service agencies in seven Baltimore City neighborhoods to deliver assistance to pregnant women and families with newborns and children up to age 6.
The partnership will help ensure that children living in these communities are born healthy, stay safe and healthy, and enter school ready to succeed. To accomplish this, the initiative seeks to provide a citywide network of comprehensive programs--including home visitation and center-based services--that are aimed at reducing high rates of premature births, low birth weights, infant mortality, unintentional injuries and child abuse.
The implementation of Success by 6 is led by the Family League of Baltimore City, the Safe and Sound Campaign and United Way of Central Maryland. A dozen organizations have contributed financial aid or human resources. Success by 6 grew out of the Safe and Sound Campaign, a citywide effort to improve children's health and safety.
Johns Hopkins will monitor the health indicators in the seven neighborhoods and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the initiative.
"We are doing this on an almost daily basis," says Anne Duggan, an associate professor in the School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the initiative's evaluation. "This is not something where we will come back in three or five years with a recommendation. The information we gather is fed directly back to the United Way and the participating agencies."
Duggan says the time has come to confront these health-related issues for Baltimore's youth head on.
"In our community, there are many, many families that have to endure incredible stresses," Duggan says. "Parental substance abuse, domestic violence, poor living conditions--these are problems that need to be addressed."
Historic East Baltimore North and South, two areas surrounding the JHMI campus, are among the communities that have been selected to receive Success by 6 grants. The others are Park Heights, Mondawmin-Penn North, DRU (Druid Heights, Reservoir Hill and Upton), Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park and the Southwest Consortium. Each of the seven neighborhoods has a collaborative of community-based organizations with a lead agency and a governance structure to coordinate existing services and to decide if additional services are needed.
In HEBNORTH, the Kennedy Krieger Institute is the lead agency and the School of Nursing, one of the contracted institutions. Specifically, School of Nursing faculty, staff and students are involved with going into the community and interviewing parents and expectant mothers to assess their needs, connect them with existing services and provide information such as health and nutrition tips for both them and their children.
Barbara Squires, an employee of the Baltimore City Health Department and strategist for Baltimore's Success by 6 Partnership, says that through this concerted door-to-door effort, she is confident the outcomes for Baltimore children will be improved.
"In the long term, we want to significantly reduce the poor health indicators in these communities," Squires says. "To do this we need better service integration and programs working with one another. Success by 6 is a means to make this happen."
Five percent of United Way contributions, unless specifically designated, go to providing direct services to the community, such as Success by 6, First Call for Help and the Community Resource Bank.
For more information on Success by 6, or to volunteer your services, contact Barbara Squires at 410-396-9994.