Bridgeport has been selected to receive a three-year $250,000 grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, one of 10 awarded following a national, yearlong competition to identify innovative community-based efforts to improve outcomes for infants and toddlers.
United Way’s Bridgeport Prospers will manage the grant funds on behalf of a coalition of 41 public and private partners that have crafted a strategy for a strong and sustainable infrastructure to improve access to programs and services that offer a foundation for a strong start for the community’s youngest children. The coalition and its members will join other national, state andl ocal organizations as part of the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers.
“We are honored to receive this Community Innovation grant to provide Bridgeport families with supports they need to foster their young children’s healthy development,” Allison Logan, executive director of Bridgeport Prospers, said in a statement. “We believe in the promise and potential of every child, and in Bridgeport, which faces the largest opportunity gap in the country, there is so much unrealized potential. Our vision is that all children are happy, healthy and ready for preschool at the age of 3.”
Currently, up to 75% of the city’s 3-year olds don’t meet all age-expected developmental milestones. Through the grant, the multi-sector coalition will provide families with a coordinated network of services and supports designed to improve maternal health, infant health, healthy child development, and school readiness. Called The Baby Bundle, the supports are science-based and evidence-informed. They include
Wellness screenings (post-partum) for moms, newborns and families at the city’s largest birthing hospital, Bridgeport Hospital;
Pilot of a universal and triaged home visiting approach, which includes wellness navigators, doulas, and connections to needed services in the city;
Launch of the MOMS Partnership maternal mental health wellness program with the Yale New Haven Health System;
Ongoing child developmental screening and monitoring through a new mobile application, Sparkler, through two federally qualified health centers, Southwest Community Health Center and Optimus Health Care;
Early literacy support at mom’s prenatal visits, after hospital delivery at both local hospitals, and at pediatric well visits, through partners Read to Grow and Reach Out and Read;
Bridgeport Basics, a parenting resource that fosters early language, literacy, math and social-emotional development, available online and through 24 partners throughout the city (in libraries, school resource centers, childcare programs and health centers);
Increase of licensed quality family childcare, in partnership with All Our Kin.
Additionally, the initiative will explore using a data sharing system to track progress and monitor outcomes, using tools
like UNITE US, a referral program that links the health and social services sectors.
Bridgeport Prospers’ Allison Logan will serve as the Pritzker Fellow, leading the coalition’s initiatives. She said: “To truly improve outcomes for children, we need to focus on the early years, since 80% of a child’s brain growth happens by age 3. And we need to work upstream, to reduce barriers and improve family supports that allow children to achieve their full potential. The Baby Bundle approach does just that.”
Within three years, The Baby Bundle will expand to reach a target cohort of 25% of Bridgeport infants, toddlers and their families (estimated at 1,050 ) who live below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. In the process, the coalition aims to improve systems that serve the families.
“I’m so very proud of this innovative, comprehensive and community-wide approach to improving outcomes for our city’s children,” said Jeff Kimball, CEO of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County.
“Bringing together all the sectors of family-serving organizations is a fine example of collective impact at work.”
Gerry Cobb, director of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI), added: “Supporting strong prenatal-to-three efforts in communities across the nation is key to expanding the numbers of young children in the United States with access to high-quality programs and services. We believe that setting infants and toddlers on the path to success in school and in life is work on which we can all agree. PCI is pleased to support the priorities of United Way’s Bridgeport Prospers through this grant and wants to build on the innovative work being done by the outstanding public and private partners that have come together on behalf of the Bridgeport’s youngest children.”