First 1000 Days Sarasota has become the first local affiliate of the Florida First 1000 Days Coalition!
In Sarasota County, 52 percent of babies are born in to families living in poverty. These new mothers and babies often leave the hospital and return to an unstable home offering little food, emotional support and other important resources. Realization of this tragic need caused the community’s passionate early childhood development professionals to ask, “How can we embrace these families and ensure they access the community resources they need?” This question has taken nearly 30 organizations more than one year to answer.
What emerged is a new community initiative—First 1,000 Days Sarasota County. The initiative will help families better access medical, emotional and wellness services pre-pregnancy through the developmental years, said Kelly Romanoff, who coordinates the group.
The initiative is strategically led by Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and facilitated by Bill Little, former director of Sarasota County Health Department. First 1,000 Days is a community collaboration shaped by many partners: All Faiths Food Bank, Children First, Coastal Behavioral Healthcare, Community Health Centers of Sarasota County, Florida Department of Health, Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, First Step of Sarasota, The Florida Center for Early Childhood, Florida Department of Children & Families, Forty Carrots Family Center, Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Harvest House, Healthy Start of Sarasota County, Jewish Family & Children Services, March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Sarasota County Health Department, Sarasota County Libraries, Sarasota County Schools, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and the Sarasota YMCA Safe Children’s Coalition.
Knowledge of the barriers families in poverty face in accessing services grew as each partner shared their experiences, explained Romanoff. Early efforts focus on four areas to reduce barriers and increase access.
- Improve access for women who don’t receive prenatal care. Last year, 215 women delivered babies in Sarasota County without receiving pre-natal care. This target population will be the focus of a First 1,000 Days Coordination of Services Pilot.
- Improve Medicaid reimbursement and address challenges patients and providers face with managed care organizations.
- Increase awareness in the community regarding the complexity of issues facing families and babies and the availability of services.
- Make best use of data to define the problem and advocate and promote best practice solutions.
The group’s commitment to safely delivering babies into the world and safely delivering them into the community is stronger than ever, Romanoff noted.
“We believe our initiative aligns with the statewide First 1,000 Days in vision and mission. Affiliation with First 1,000 Days Florida will complement our local efforts in many ways. Specifically, affiliation will help us to be informed advocates for effective programs and policies, expand opportunities to learn and share best practices, and add credibility by linking to existing strategies to change the outcomes for families and babies,” she explained.
“First 1,000 Days Sarasota County is extremely delighted to be the first official local affiliate of First 1,000 Days Florida.”
For more information, contact Kelly Romanoff, [email protected]