County get federal grant for program expansion

Anoka County has received a federal grant to expand its maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting program.

The grant totaling $80,610 has been awarded by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) from its federal allocation and runs from Dec. 15 through March 30, 2013.

With the grant money to expand the home visiting program, the Anoka County Board’s Management Committee has approved the hiring of three full-time public health nurses and a three-quarter time public health nurse supervisor for the limited term of the grant.

“We hope the expansion program will continue beyond this time period,” said Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah, who chairs the board’s Human Services Committee, which recommended acceptance of the grant.

According to information provided to the county board by Laurel Hoff, county director of the community health and environmental services department, the state is anticipating annual grant awards for two years after the existing grant end period ends March 30, 2013.

Over the 2 1/2 year period, the county is anticipating receiving $873,000, Hoff wrote in her report.

“The amount is calculated at $5,000/family served per year and also includes dollars for a contract with a local licensed mental health provider to serve as part of the home visiting team,” she wrote.

According to Hoff, MDH received $8 million per year for three years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting.

For the grant, MDH had to complete a statewide needs assessment focusing on 15 risk factors in three categories – maternal and newborn health, injury and economic self-sufficiency, Hoff wrote in her report.

Anoka County was the recipient of grant dollars because it ranked in the top 10 statewide in all three categories, she wrote.

The county will use two evidence-based models to target the at-risk population. They are the nurse-family partnership and healthy families America models, Hoff wrote.

“Evidence-based family home visiting models have proven that for every public health dollar invested a return of up to $5.70 can be expected in savings to programs including Medicaid and food support,” she wrote.

As part of the grant program, four existing county public health nurses will be trained in the healthy families America model and one in the nurse family partnership, according to Hoff.

The public health supervisor who will be brought on board will coordinate and provide program development and evaluation as well as supervision, while the new public health nurses will support the transition of family health activities, she wrote.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]