Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration

Maternal & Child Health Newsletter, Iss. 26

News from NIHCM

CityMatCH, one of NIHCM’s Alliance for Information on Maternal and Child Health Information (AIM) grant partners, co-hosted its annual Urban MCH Leadership Conference with the 18th Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Conference in San Antonio, TX from December 12-14. NIHCM staff presented a poster at the conference highlighting recent research on the preconception health efforts of health plans and health plan foundations. This research was published in May 2012 as an issue brief, “Health Plan Approaches to Preconception Health.”

NIHCM Foundation recently released a fact sheet entitled “Fostering Healthy Families Through Stable Housing – The Role of the Health Care System.” This fact sheet considers how health plans and their foundations can contribute to improving housing and health care for homeless and at-risk children, with examples and resources to guide health plan efforts.

Summaries of Recent MCH News

Supporting Optimal Nutrition from Early Childhood Through Adolescence

Youth Suicide Prevention: Areas for Health Plan Involvement

The State Legislative Election Tide and Steep Learning Curves, by the National Conference of State Legislatures

The Cost Benefit of Bullying Prevention - Bullying is a serious public health issue affecting one in three children in U.S. schools today. For nearly a decade the Highmark Foundation, a private foundation and an affiliate of Highmark Inc., has been funding school-based bullying prevention efforts. The Foundation recently released a report of the cost benefits of its latest statewide bullying prevention program, the largest implementation of the evidence-based Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in the country.

The Cost Benefit of Bullying Prevention: A First-Time Look at Savings is a first-of-its-kind analysis of the cost savings of bullying prevention from the perspective of schools, the health care system and the community. The Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Windber Research Institute conducted the study, which highlights, for example, a $17.1 million in potential savings for schools when the number of students who leave school because of bullying is reduced. The cost of OBPP implementation for a school is recovered if just two students are prevented from leaving school.

Visit the Highmark Foundation’s website,, to read the report. You can learn more about the coalition by viewing an archive of NIHCM Foundation’s April 2012 webinar “Creating Safer Schools & Healthier Children: A Model Bullying Prevention Program.”

Promising Practices in MCH

NIHCM recently published a new fact sheet in the Promising Practices in Maternal and Child Health series that highlights partnerships between health plans and others in the MCH community. “Delivering Improvements in Infant Mortality Rates” describes two partnerships between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee Health Foundation and local physician groups that are aimed at reducing infant mortality in high-need areas of the state. One program works to increase access to obstetric specialists through telemedicine, and a second initiative provides socio-emotional counseling in conjunction with traditional prenatal care for expectant mothers.

We continue to update our Promising Practices in Maternal & Child Health searchable database, a collection of emerging and promising health plan programs and collaborations. This database allows you to learn more about the MCH activities and priorities of health plans and foundations from across the country with a goal of facilitating program replication and fostering new collaborations between health plans and other MCH stakeholders, especially those working in communities and in the public sector.

Health Plan Initiatives to Improve MCH

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced the winners of its Health Innovation Challenge to promote programs addressing the state’s soaring obesity rates. The winning programs are IN-R-FOOD, a mobile app that allows consumers to scan bar codes to see nutritional information; The Walking Classroom, curriculum-based podcasts enabling kids to move while they learn; and Sqord, which uses kid-friendly accelerometers and a social platform to track and encourage physical activity. Mentoring services were provided to 11 finalists, and the 3 winners also received $20,000 in financial support.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation has awarded $3 million in IMPACT grants to reduce health care disparities by supporting community-based organizations and health departments that expand access to care. Grant recipients include Children’s Volunteer Health Network, to support a mobile dental unit; and Sundari Foundation, to provide clinical services at a homeless shelter for women and children.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBSSC) Foundation has presented a $200,000 grant to Greenville County Schools Food and Nutrition Services to expand its Culinary Creations program. The program trains staff to prepare nutritious school meals and to encourage students to make healthy choices. The new funding will allow implementation of the program in all of the county’s public schools by 2015.

BCBSSC Foundation has also awarded a $150,000 grant to the Williamsburg County School District to implement the OrganWise Guys program in all county elementary schools and to hire a school nurse to oversee the program. The OrganWise Guys curriculum teaches children how food affects the body and why eating healthy is important.

Health Care Service Corporation has teamed up with Loveisrespect to prevent teen dating abuse through education and outreach. The joint initiative aims to reach one million teens in four states through school-based “Loveisrespect Institutes” and with the distribution of 1,000 toolkits for schools, which include curriculum, web-based activities and instruction for creating a supportive community.

Highmark Foundation has granted funding to Educating Teens About HIV/AIDS, Inc. to for its Live Life Without Disease Series. This program consists of ten sessions for teens and their parents on topics such as STD prevention, nutrition, stress management and violence prevention. Teens are offered tools to support healthy decision-making in a context that stresses the importance of parental support.

The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has presented more than $2 million in grants to 33 organizations to improve the health of Arkansas residents. Numerous programs supporting maternal and child health were funded, including an initiative of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to build infrastructure for learning collaboratives and quality improvements in pediatric practices, a program providing free eye exams and glasses to 880 underserved children, and a plan to improve training on youth and family mental health needs.

The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey has announced a $2.25 million expansion grant for Healthy U, its collaborative initiative with the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance that uses the evidence-based CATCH curriculum to fight childhood obesity. With this funding, Healthy U will double its reach to roughly 40,000 children over three and a half years by adding preschool and school-based components in addition to its established after-school program.

The Horizon Foundation has also awarded over $400,000 in grants to 24 organizations including Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey, for the Live Healthy-Lead Healthy program; Leche de Mama, for nutrition workshops and exercise field trips for families; and the Latino Leadership Alliance Foundation, for a documentary covering solutions to language barrier issues in the health system and highlighting state services for childhood obesity.

Partner Spotlight

ChopChop, The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families, is a non-profit quarterly food magazine published in English and Spanish. ChopChop’s mission is to inspire and teach kids to cook and eat real food with their families. Each issue contains easy-to-prepare, inexpensive, ethnically diverse, delicious and nutritious recipes in addition to little-known food facts, fun Q&A's and games. It is also designed as a tool for health care providers to help educate patients about nutrition, fitness and healthy weight. Each subscription helps to pay for a year of ChopChop for a family or community in need.

The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) has released a report on Iowa’s Community Circle of Care, a network of community-based services to coordinate care for youth with serious mental health needs and their families. The report highlights promising results in areas like school performance and caregiver strain, as well as specific stories of children who have benefited.

CityMatCH has published a resource to help public health professionals lead open and effective dialogues about the impact of racism on maternal and child health outcomes. “Conversations that Matter: A How-To Guide for Hosting Discussions about Race, Racism, and Public Health” provides insights for ensuring constructive discussions about race, including how to raise the issue, tips for group conversations and considerations for establishing planning teams.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) has released an issue brief entitled “Disparities and Inequities in Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes.” This brief covers many of the key considerations on the topic, including race and ethnicity, prenatal care, and infant mortality, and it highlights state programs to reduce disparities.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently launched the Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight to focus on connecting pediatricians, communities and families with evidence-based resources and best practices for preventing and treating childhood obesity. The AAP also released a fact sheet on its Healthy Active Living for Families (HALF) program empowering parents to help their children develop healthy habits from early childhood onward.

Grantmakers in Health has published two new Views from the Field essays on maternal and child health programs. “Conceptualizing Best Practices for Maternal and Child Health” describes AMCHP’s Best Practices program and Innovation Station. “Improving Systems of Care for Children with Special Health Care Needs” highlights the efforts of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital to reduce fragmentation of post-acute care.