Healthy Start Survey - November December 2000
Healthy Start grantees were surveyed during November and December 2000
to assess the effects of recent state policy changes including an overall
budget cut, target population reductions, service expansions to include
HUSKY outreach and funding delays. Surveys were conducted both by FAX and
by phone. Of twenty-four grantees, twenty two responded to the survey.
- Grantees reiterated their deep commitment to the program and the
mission of Healthy Start, despite repeated reductions in funding
- Grantees were resourceful in maintaining their programs, staff were
expanding their roles with fewer resources. In some cases, alternative
funding was found to maintain services, forcing a cost shift to other
- Grantees were very careful to ensure that any reductions in services
to clients, if necessary, were minimized.
- Fourteen respondents reported a reduction in resources available for
traditional Healthy Start activities; twelve noted a reduction in
total funding even including new HUSKY outreach funding. Three noted
an increase in funding and four no change. The largest reduction was
by 40% to the Greater New Haven Region.
- At least 8 full time Healthy Start positions were lost. The losses
were partially offset by eliminating vacant positions and creating new
HUSKY outreach positions.
- One grantee is no longer participating in the program at all and one
program has lost three Healthy Start sites.
- No competitors to the Healthy Start grantees' applications were
identified. This finding is significant, in that it suggests that the
Healthy Start network is the sole source in Connecticut for these
critical services to a fragile, at-risk Maternal and Child Health
- Several grantees noted regret in policy changes:
- Reduction of the target population to younger children - several
noted that they will not "abandon" older children, but
will serve those families without compensation,
- Loss of the Healthy Families collaboration and
- Loss of Welfare to Work funding.
- Grantees varied in their anxiety about funding delays. At the time
of the survey, grantees had received no funding for two months with no
estimate of when funding would be released. Some were supported by an
institution that was able to carry the program and is committed to the
mission, however other programs noted that they could not last much
longer. One grantee commented that experienced staff are leaving due
to the uncertainty. She asked" What am I supposed to say to them?
I can't make promises."
- Most grantees noted that regionalizing Healthy Start grants into 15
collaborations went smoothly. One grantee reported mild difficulties
in forming new partnerships.
- Grantees varied in the specifics and detail of their HUSKY outreach
plans, as well as in how much funding they are devoting to outreach
(from 12 to 58% at each site).
- Reactions to the addition of HUSKY outreach functions was mixed -
some programs had been funded in the past for those activities, but
for some it involves a new set of skills and staff. Most were excited
about the possibilities and were very creative in designing programs
that fit their communities.
Overall, reactions to the RFP process and funding cuts varied, even by
the same individual at different times. Typical comments ranged from,
"We will not back away from our commitment to this program" to
"Why is the state doing this to us? Do they want to put us out of