Q: What is the difference between the Healthy Start Coalition and the Healthy Start Program?
The Healthy Start Coalition is the administrative office that holds the contracts for area providers, creates and maintains the strategic plan to ensure the organization is on track to meet goals, applies for grants, develops ideas into action, and a host of other behind the scenes necessities. They are located at the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Campus in the building with the light pink stripe (1750 17th Street, Building A, Sarasota, FL 34234). Phone – 941-373-7070
The Healthy Start Program is the contracted agency which provides the direct service to the community – they are the feet on the ground. They meet with moms, provide education and assistance, or refer clients to other agencies when needed. In Sarasota County, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County is the contracted provider. The Healthy Start Program office has two locations – upstairs at the Department of Health (2200 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34237) and across the street from the North Port Health Department at the Social Service Building (6919 Outreach Way, North Port, FL 34287). Phone – 941-861-2905.
Q: Is Healthy Start affiliated with the Department of Children and Families?
No. While we occasionally collaborate on community projects, your participation in Healthy Start is voluntary. Our goal is to help you help your family. We offer education and support service, and sometimes that education can help improve your case when Child Protective Services is involved. However, all employees are legally bound to report any reasonably suspected child abuse according to state statute.
Q: Do I have to meet income requirements to participate in Healthy Start?
No. Healthy Start is a risk-based program. If you need help, you are eligible for services. We do not require you to provide your salary or income to participate in any part of the programs provided by Healthy Start.
Q: Do I have to have Medicaid to participate in Healthy Start?
No. Healthy Start is a risk-based program. If you need help, you are eligible for service. We can help if you have Medicaid, private insurance, or no insurance.
Q: How do I enroll in the Healthy Start Program?
There are 3 ways to enroll in Health Start.
- Referred in by risk screening.
- At your first prenatal visit with your doctor or midwife, they will offer you a Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screen, and ask you a series of question (ideally) or have you fill out the form yourself. The answers are added and a risk score is calculated. If your score is 6 or above, you are automatically eligible for Healthy Start and once you consent to be contacted, a Healthy Start Care Coordinator will contact you.
- After your baby is born your birth center or midwife will offer you a Healthy Start Infant Screen. A series of questions will be scored automatically and a risk score calculated. If your baby’s score is 4 or above, they are automatically eligible for Healthy Start Program and once you consent to be contact, a Healthy Start Care Coordinator will contact you.
- Referred in by your doctor, midwife, health care provider, or another support service. If you are experiencing a problem during pregnancy (such as a health condition that can affect your pregnancy – HIV, Hep B, thyroid problems, depression or active mental illness, hypertension, diabetes, etc), experiencing abuse, homelessness, current substance use (tobacco, drugs, alcohol, etc.) or other eligible situations, your provider can contact us and refer you for help. A Healthy Start Care Coordinator will contact you.
- You can contact us! Stop by the Healthy Start Program office upstairs at the Health Department at 2200 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm weekdays or call us at 941-861-2905. A Care Coordinator will ask you some questions to help get you started.
Q: What does the Prenatal Risk Screen or Infant Risk Screen mean?
The Healthy Start Risk Screens were created after extensive research and analysis and approved by a statewide workgroup. Each risk factor scored on the screen is associated with higher risk of poor health outcomes (low birth weight, preterm birth, fetal or infant loss, etc). Healthy Start services are provided with risk reduction in mind, ensuring families have the support they need.
Q: How much do services through Healthy Start cost?
All Healthy Start services are available at no cost to you. For more information on the services offered through Healthy Start, read further through the FAQs or contact us at 941-861-2905.
Q: Who provides services through Healthy Start?
Healthy Start Care Coordinators provide much of the education and case management through Healthy Start. Our Care Coordinators come from a variety of backgrounds but are all professionally trained to provide services and education in a variety of areas. Each undergoes additional training in post-partum depression, child development, breastfeeding, counseling, substance abuse, smoking cessation, and more. Many of the Care Coordinators go a step further to become certified in areas they teach, several have become Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC), or have gone on to earn a Masters in Social Work (MSW).
If further assistance is needed, clients can be referred to contracted providers who are specialists in their field. Childbirth Educators, Licensed Mental Health providers, Lactation Consultants, Child’Space Certified providers, and more. For more information on how Healthy Start can help you, contact us at 941-861-2905.
Q: Are services provided confidential?
All services provided by Healthy Start are confidential. They are kept between you and your Care Coordinator unless you request the information shared with your doctor, midwife, or healthcare provider. Healthy Start complies with all local, state, and national laws and regulations including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).