Healthy Start

Healthy Start is a federally funded program serving pregnant people, expectant fathers, the family, and children up to 18-months. For over 20 years, Healthy Start has reduced the infant mortality rate and improved birth outcomes in the target area of Chester, Upland, Eddystone, Woodlyn, Parkside, Chester Township, Marcus Hook, Trainer, and Linwood. Services include:

  • Intensive outreach, engagement, and recruitment of pregnant people;
  • Tiered care coordination and case management based on assessed need and home visiting;
  • Education that focuses on health, pregnancy, parenting, early childhood development, life skills, financial literacy, and management;
  • Civil legal information and representation; and
  • Permanent housing support services and resources.

More than 700 participants benefit from Healthy Start each year. People can enroll during their pregnancy and after delivery and can remain in the program until the child is eighteen-months-old.

Healthy Start is one of the foundation’s two home-visiting programs, in addition to Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). These programs work in collaboration with our other public health initiatives to give families the full complement of services and support to thoroughly prepare them for welcoming a new baby and parenting toddlers. When you are enrolled in both programs, Healthy Start case managers and Nurse-Family Partnership nurses are a team, with your case manager connecting you to eligible services and benefits, and your nurse emphasizing parenting.

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Why is Healthy Start needed?

To help improve Black maternal and birth outcomes.

To help Black babies to survive and thrive past their first birthday.

In the Healthy Start service area (Chester City), the 2014-2018 five-year infant mortality rate (IMR) is 15 deaths per 1,000 live births and there were a total of 41 infant deaths. This rate is two times higher than the rate in Delaware County and 2.5 times higher than the rate in Pennsylvania and the U.S.

When Healthy Start was launched in 1997 the IMR rate (1995) was 22 infant deaths per 1,000. Healthy Start services, the continuum of care with the foundation’s Nurse-Family Partnership and WIC, and other community-based partnerships, have all helped to improve maternal and birth outcomes which contributes to the reduction in the IMR for Chester.

Recent research suggests that several factors contribute to poor birth outcomes. These include where a mother lives, adverse childhood experiences and trauma, and preconception care. African American women with less than a high school diploma are particularly at risk.


The health of a person and the newborn should not be determined by their zip code.

Several unique components of the program are leading to improved outcomes.

Delaware Law School’s Medical Legal Partnership

This is a unique partnership between Healthy Start and Widener University School of Law. It provides direct legal representation, systemic advocacy and training to support program participants, staff and the community.

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El Centro – Center for Hispanic Resources

The center is a “one-stop-shop” that connects program participants and other individuals with a range of services. Among these are translation, appointment scheduling, health education, assistance with applications and agency referrals.

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Perinatal Periods of Risk

The PPOR project, in collaboration with the Delaware County Child Death Review Team, collected data and reviewed fetal and infant deaths. The purpose of the project was to better understand why infants are dying during certain periods of risk.

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HOPE Program

The Housing Opportunities Program for Equity (HOPE) will provide assistance with case management, placement, tenant rights education, financial literacy, referral services, and direct financial relief. The program will also conduct housing policy advocacy.

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I almost dropped out of school when I became pregnant. But my Healthy Start case manager helped me sign up for home school

Program Participant

Now I have my high school diploma.

Program Participant

Before, agencies were giving me a run around, but having a lawyer there gets things done. Her help is very effective and has had a huge impact on my family.

Program Participant