Every Child Succeeds Program Producing Results

Infant Mortality Far Below Local, State and National Averages

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

An analysis of Every Child Succeeds, a home visitation program to ensure an optimal start in life for children of at-risk, first-time mothers, shows that infant mortality among program participants is well below local, state and national averages.

The infant mortality rate among families enrolled in the program since its inception in 1999 is 2.8 per 1,000 live births. This compares to the national rate of 6.8 per 1,000 live births, statewide rate of 7.6 per 1,000 live births, Hamilton County rate of 10.5 per 1,000 live births and city of Cincinnati rate of 13.1 per 1,000 live births, all based on data from 2001.

"Our findings support the use of Every Child Succeeds (ECS) as a means to lower infant mortality," says Judith Van Ginkel, PhD, president. "Unfortunately, we are limited in funding and can serve only a small percentage of the families who could benefit. The overall infant mortality rate for our service area may decrease if funding were available to provide services to a larger part of the population."

Infant mortality indicates the number of deaths in a year of children less than one year of age and is considered a critical measure of the physical and socio-economic health of the community. There are several causes of infant mortality, including birth defects, low birth weight and premature birth, smoking, SIDS, accidental injury, and abuse and neglect. These trends are documented in a number of national studies and in the United Way of Greater Cincinnati's 2004 State of the Community Report.

Every Child Succeeds was founded through a collaborative effort of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency. ECS provides educational and social services support for first-time mothers and their families. Services feature home visits that often start before a child is born and continue through age 3. Home visitors come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, including nursing, education, child development and human services.

"These findings serve as another example of the success of the Every Child Succeeds home visitation program for at-risk, first-time moms," says Robert C. Reifsnyder, president of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. "ECS and the 15 agencies that partner in this initiative are to be congratulated."

The mortality rate analysis was conducted by ECS researchers at Cincinnati Children's. Their analysis included 6,455 mothers enrolled in the program since it began. Many of these mothers have several of the risk factors associated with infant mortality, including late-term or no prenatal care, smoking, drug or alcohol consumption during pregnancy, low income, depression and a history of sexual or physical abuse.

The highest infant mortality rates in the general population are concentrated in the core, urban area of Cincinnati and in some rural areas, each of which has higher concentrations of low-income families. ECS addresses infant mortality risk factors in the areas it serves in many ways. These include:

  • Frequent home visits with mothers enrolled prenatally. On average, home visitors make 7.5 home visits before a baby is born.
  • Home visitors seek to reduce birth defects, low birth weight and premature birth, and birth complications by ensuring regular prenatal care, promoting proper diet, encouraging the cessation of smoking and taking prenatal vitamins. Home visitors also teach mothers to implement good sleep practices in babies to avoid SIDS.
  • Safety reviews of the home are conducted to reduce injuries.
  • In-home treatment for depression, if needed.
  • Home visitors provide a parenting curriculum designed to help families provide a safe and nurturing environment for their babies, thereby preventing abuse and neglect.

Every Child Succeeds is also delivering a number of other promising results. For example, more than 90 percent of the children enrolled in the program are developing normally. In addition, most mothers in the program are either going back to school or seeking employment.

"High quality programs that address early childhood, such as Every Child Succeeds, save $4 of public money for every $1 invested, according to an analysis by the RAND Corporation," says David Walker, chairman of the ECS board. "I'd particularly like to recognize the Hamilton County Commissioners, who have continued to support Every Child Succeeds during this time of difficult fiscal constraints."

ECS is a voluntary program that is 70 percent publicly funded and 30 percent privately funded. Private funding comes largely through the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Major public funding comes from the Ohio Help Me Grow program, the Kentucky Kids Now / HANDS program and from the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services. Because the program has limited funds, it only reaches about 18 percent of eligible, first-time mothers in the four Ohio counties within its service area (Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Brown) and about 40 percent in the three counties in Northern Kentucky (Kenton, Boone and Campbell).

Cincinnati Children's is a 423-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to transforming the way health care is delivered by providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. It ranks third nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, jim.feuer@cchmc.org, 513-636-4656