Tallahassee, FL - 20 year old Tominique Hadley is all smiles, grateful her three week old baby is in good health.
When Tominique found out she was pregnant she turned to her mom, but her mom was fighting a losing battle with cancer. And Tominique found herself without a support system. That’s when she found Florida Healthy Start.
“I was not eating well. I was not sleeping well. I was definitely not going down the right path. I found out about the program and they got me on the right track,” said Tominique.
Healthy Start offers pregnant women prenatal care, diet advice, drug and alcohol counseling and other services proven to improve the chances of a healthy delivery.
The program was created by the legislature twenty years ago.
“Since Healthy Start’s inception, Florida’s infant mortality rate has dropped significantly,” said Judi Vitucci, Director of the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions.
The state hit an all time low with statistics released Monday showing just 6.9 out of every thousand babies in Florida dying before they reach one. But with the state budget in shambles, changes to the program are in the works.
Last year, child advocates fought back budget cuts that would have left the program without any state dollars. This year there’s a proposed management change that has advocates concerned.
Right now they’re taking their case to lawmakers.
“A cut unfortunately of any size would probably hit us at a time when we’re least capable of handling it,” said Dixie Morgese, With Healthy Start in Flagler County.
Healthy Start receives just four million dollars from the state. Advocates say it saves taxpayers in the long run, by ensuring more Floridians begin life in good health.
Governor Rick Scott’s budget proposal holds Healthy Start harmless in funding, but moves the administrate authority over the program from the Department of Health to the Department of Management Services.