First 5 LA Commissioners Vote to Fund Black Infant Health ProgramJanuary 24, 2011
|LOS ANGELES---Recognizing the importance of the Black Infant Health (BIH) Program, the First 5 LA Commissioners agreed at their January meeting to continue funding the effort in Los Angeles County until 2014.
The BIH, which seeks to lower the rate of black infant mortality, was facing severe cutbacks without the state funding for its three local programs, which include the city of Pasadena, the city of Long Beach and Los Angeles County.
The state-wide program began in 1989 to address the alarming number of black infant deaths. Even now, black infants still have twice the mortality rate than their white counterparts, according to 2006 data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
Through health education, promotion, social support and service coordination to pregnant and parenting black adult women, the program has seen a 50 percent reduction in the number of low birth weight babies born to clients and successfully reduced infant mortality rates among program participants by 50 percent, according to First 5 LA Commission Chair and County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who brought the successful funding motion.
C. McKinely Kemp, who manages the L.A. County Department of Public Health's BIH Program in Lancaster, told the Commissioners that the program is in line with First 5 LA's goals that all children in the county are born and stay healthy. No one chooses to whom they are born, Kemp said, and the unborn deserve a chance that can only be brought about with education and resources.
The Commission voted to support BIH in September 2009 and again in May after BIH experienced devastating state budget cuts. To prevent interruption of services, First 5 LA agreed to provide nearly $1.2 million in annual transitional funding. The agreement was set to expire in June, but the Commissioners' action to continue the funding at the same rate will save the program from cutting back 75 percent of its services, according to Antonovich's motion.
"We are so grateful for what this Commission has afforded us to do in the past two years," said Gwendolyn Manning-Robinson, the BIH Program coordinator for the City of Long Beach. She said highlights of the program includes referrals, mechanisms to ensure that babies are born in abuse-free environments, group training, therapy, social support, empowerment classes and depression screening for parents.
/*php echo $node_region;*/?>