Charleston Assures Every Child
a Healthy Start in Life
Continuity of Care
is Program Goal
In Charleston, a team of
community leaders, including representatives of a cross-section of the
area’s health agencies, is collaborating to ensure that every child in
the City will experience continuity of care – a succession of all
essential services necessary to maintain health or treat illness.
This is Charleston’s Healthy
Start Program, and its continuity-of-care goal is accomplished through the
establishment of a “medical home” for each child and through the
expansion of educational opportunities for parents and caregivers. A
medical home is defined as a physician, medical practice or clinic which
can provide total personal health care, including prevention and
treatment. It continually oversees and attends to needs such as
immunizations, dental care, mental health, nutrition and treatment of
Healthy Start is
Charleston’s response to a range of health care problems affecting the
In 1996, 242 babies were born
to mothers under the age of 18, 9.6 percent of all babies were born with
low birth weight, and 13.7 percent of pregnant women received no prenatal
care in the first three months of pregnancy. In 1998, 18 percent of
children seen in public health clinics were not fully immunized.
Charleston Mayor Joseph P.
Riley, Jr. sees the Healthy Start Program as his City’s most ambitious
response to the America’s Promise goal of giving a healthy future to
every child. It was launched following the April 1997 America’s Promise
kick-off event in Philadelphia – attended by the Mayor and a Charleston
delegation – with the Mayor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families
facilitating and overseeing the planning process, and start-up funding
provided by SmithKline Beecham, the CareAlliance Health Service (of the
Roper Foundation) and the Charleston County School District. Initially,
the Healthy Start Planning Committee included representatives of the City,
the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing, Dental
School and Family Services Institute, the March of Dimes, PedsPlus, and
the Charleston County School District. As the Program has progressed, the
Committee has expanded with the addition of the Medical Society, the
Family Service Research Center, the Libraries and Learning Center, and
several other organizations involved in delivery of services for children.
As an example of the continuum
of care services being provided through the Program, the MUSC School of
Dentistry is delivering dental health services to 24 schools in
Charleston. Dental students and hygienists provide screenings, proper oral
hygiene, health fairs, and dental supplies to students, and the School of
Dentistry was recently awarded a grant to provide dental sealant to third
grade students. MUSC has also agreed to utilize its recently-acquired
Dental Van in a community dental outreach program.
Among current activities, the
In addition, the Program has:
The Healthy Start Resource
Library is the most recent addition to the Healthy Start Program, designed
to educate parents on child health care issues and improve their
understanding of how to access medical care. Based on the belief that
promotion of children’s health is accomplished through education and
knowledge, the Library provides families and childcare providers with easy
access to materials on a wide range of child care issues. Housed at the
Charleston County Public Library, the Healthy Start Collection includes
128 publications and 30 videos. The titles in the collection reflect the
diversity of issues covered. Among them: Parent’s Journal Guide to
Raising Great Kids, Questions Children Ask, Comprehensive Guide to
Parenting, Childhood Asthma, 10 Ways to Raise a Non-Racist Child,
Parenting Your Teenagers, and Children’s Medical Guide.
“Our goal in Charleston is
that every child, regardless of circumstances, has, as a right of
citizenship, a medical home and continuity of care,” says Mayor Riley.
“The resources are out there. It’s just a matter of coordinating
Information on the
Charleston Healthy Start Program is available from Jacquie Kennedy,
Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth and
Families, at (843) 965-4190.
The United States Conference of Mayors
Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.