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Health & Science

First Year Cleveland Is Getting Nearly $3 Million To Fight Infant Mortality in Cuyahoga County

photo of Kevin Kelley
KEVIN NIEDERMIER
/
WKSU

A program based in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County is getting close to $3 million to reduce the region's high infant mortality rate.

Ohio's Department of Medicaid is awarding the money to First Year Cleveland, a city-county partnership launched six months ago.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish says First Year Cleveland was formed because of the city's – and county’s – overlapping efforts to curb the infant mortality rates, which are more than twice the national average.

“We joined forces and in fact have created a coalition that includes the hospitals, the foundations, the business community, the non-profit sector.”

About one-third of the funds from the state will go to group prenatal care and local fatherhood readiness programs. And about $2 million will support MomsFirst, a program of in-home visits during and after pregnancy, which also follows children for their first two years.

Budish says the money adds to a pool of funds to combat the problem.

“Initial funding was provided by the county and the city. The county was able to come up with $1.5 million in our most recent budget. The City of Cleveland came up with $500,000 over the two years. And now the state of Ohio has stepped up, and we’re still looking for additional funding from the business and philanthropic communities.”

First Year Cleveland is a consortium of groups offering existing prenatal care programs.