What is the Healthy Start Infant Risk Screen?

Florida’s Healthy Start Infant Risk Screening Instrument is a simple, brief questionnaire that helps the birthing facility identify infants who are at increased risk of post-neonatal or infant mortality during the first year of life or at risk for adverse health and developmental outcomes.

Infants with a score of 4 or more are approximately 6 times more likely to die within the first year after birth! So, early intervention is key.

Who has to be Screened?

Florida State Statute, 383.14 (FAC 64-C), written in 1991, states that the Healthy Start Infant Risk Screen is offered to parents or guardians of all infants born in Florida before leaving the delivering facility. In other words, it’s the law!

What is the Birthing Facility’s Role?

  • Make sure the parent or guardian is offered the confidential Infant Risk Screening. Approach the screening in a positive manner and be available to answer questions and correct any misinformation about Healthy Start. Give the patient the brochure entitled, “Healthy Start Infant Risk Screening” (available in English and Spanish). Encourage every parent or guardian to consent to the screening questions (though screening is voluntary). Completion of the questions helps assure that infants at risk receive the services they need, and provides for a strong data base for the county and state of Florida that can be used in enhancing maternal and child services. Completion of these questions also helps bring in additional funding to Sarasota County for services. Consent for the screening must be documented 1) on the Birth Certificate in the upper left hand corner, and 2) in the appropriate blanks on the Infant Risk Screen form. If consent is refused, it still must be documented on those two forms.
    In either case, the mother’s and infant’s data at the top of the form and the “Check One” section at the end of the form must be completed legibly, and then the form must be signed and dated by the provider. Please fill in every blank or box in those sections.
  • Instructions for completing and scoring the screen are on the back pages of the screening form. Please note that “Hispanic” is not a race (it is an ethnicity) and does not affect the answer to Item 30 on the Birth Certificate, “Mother’s race is unknown, other than white, or multiple races selected.”
  • Encourage every new mother to participate in Healthy Start when the answers indicate the infant is at high risk (a score of 4 or more). Healthy Start services are not income based; research shows that risks can span all income levels. Give them Sarasota County’s Healthy Start Coalition brochure which lists our services.
  • If the infant does not score a four or more, yet you have concerns about domestic violence, substance abuse, history of abuse or neglect, lack of basic needs, etc., you can make a referral to Healthy Start for reason other than score, with the parent/guardian’s permission. “Patient Desires” or “participated during pregnancy” are not reasons for referral in the absence of the named risk factors.
  • A parent or guardian can also request Healthy Start services if the score is less than four by calling 861-2905.
  • After discussing the findings with the parent or guardian, give them the green copy, put the pink copy on the chart, and along with the birth certificate send the white and yellow copies of the screen within 5 days to: Sarasota County Health Department, P.O. Box 2658, Sarasota, FL, 34230. If Birthtype ® is used, you will need to photocopy three additional sheets and have the patient sign each, then distribute according to the color code. If the parent or guardian has answered the questions and agreed to participate, she will be contacted by the Healthy Start Program and offered services based on her level of risk.

What Does “High-Risk” Mean?

“High Risk” means there are environmental or medical risk factors, including physical, social or economic factors, in the baby’s life that increases the risk of death in the first year, or contribute to poor health and development.

Risk factors for infants include: maternal age less than 18; maternal age over 18 but education is less than 12th grade; mother race is other than white, unknown, or multiple races; mother is not married; the number of prenatal visits is zero, one, or unknown; infant weighs less than 2000 Gms; mother used tobacco or alcohol during pregnancy; or the infant has an abnormal condition or congenital anomaly.

This is a photo of a dad with his hands in a heart shape holding his 3 week old infants feet.

What are Healthy Start Services?

Healthy Start services are free to Healthy Start clients or their parents. Services provided by Healthy Start Care Coordinators (who are nurses or social workers) include care coordination, home visiting, and referrals to wraparound services such as: psychosocial counseling, smoking cessation programs, breastfeeding education, nutrition counseling and parenting education. Referrals are also made to appropriate agencies for food, clothing, baby items, etc.

Will the Healthy Start Program Contact me about the Patient?

The Healthy Start Care Coordinator for your patient will send you a letter with information about the client’s acceptance or refusal of the program.  The Care Coordinator may also call you if she is concerned about the client’s attendance at prenatal care appointments or is having difficulty locating the client. This personal health information sharing is allowed under HIPAA.  The Care Coordinator will call you if she has any other concerns.

What is the Difference between the Healthy Start Coalition and the Healthy Start Program?

The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County is a non-profit organization which helps set priorities to meet local needs in maternal and infant health.  Members of the community are invited to serve on the Coalition or any of its committees.  Our phone number is 941-373-7070.

The Healthy Start Program of the Sarasota County Health Department is our sub-contractor for Care Coordination services and data management. Care Coordination is the key to service provision for Healthy Start clients.  A highly qualified staff of Registered Nurses, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and Family Support Workers assure that each client’s needs are addressed. The Healthy Start Program phone number 941-861-2905.

How can the Healthy Start Coalition Help Me?

The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County provides technical assistance and monitors quality on an ongoing basis. Any time you have a question or need to train a new employee, call the Coalition at 373-7070.