Healthy Beginnings

The Healthy Beginnings program combines two models, Healthy Families America and Healthy Steps, for young children, and expands home visiting services to vulnerable, high risk mothers and families and embeds child development specialists into well-child visits from the child's 0 - 3 years to support all parents.

Chelsea ranks fourth in Massachusetts for low birth weight, infant mortality, high teen pregnancies, and indicators of poor maternal and child health outcomes. The following programs are designed to improve these outcomes. 

Healthy Families America at MGH Chelsea
Healthy Families America is a Home Visiting Program provided to first-time parents including those newly arrived in this country. The program runs from pregnancy through the child’s third birthday. Bi-cultural home visitors go to the homes of pregnant women and new mothers, and provide emotional and concrete support for the participants and families who are adjusting to a new culture and health care system. The program aims to empower mothers in a culturally appropriate manner to help them find effective solutions and reduce parental stress, strengthen parent-child relationships, promote healthy childhood growth and development and enhancing family functioning by reducing risk and building protective factors.

Healthy Steps at MGH Chelsea
Healthy Steps has three Infant-Parent Specialists who accompany first-time parents to every well-child visit from birth to age three. The specialists help inform the parents of services available at the well-child visits and also engage parents in discussions of child development, parenting, and relationships. The specialists have training in child development and address behavioral and developmental issues, focusing on a baby-whole family brand of care. This approach is being implemented in pediatric and family practices across the country and is meeting an array of community needs while preserving its unique linkage to a team of healthcare professionals.


In 2013:

  • Healthy Beginnings served 246 families; 76% of families were Latino; 61% were single/never married; 48% reported their primary language as Spanish.
  • 100% of Healthy Beginnings Staff report observing positive interactions between parent and baby.
  • 95% of children demonstrated mastery for social behavior, emotion regulation, and emotional well-being at 6 months.
  • 87% of children demonstrated mastery in their communication, language, and emergent literacy at 12 months; 80% of children demonstrated mastery for cognitive skills including gross motor, fine motor, and problem solving.
  • 85% of participants report reading, singing or telling stories to their child 4-7 days a week.
  • 100% of families reported having insurance coverage; 80% of encounters between Healthy Beginnings Staff and families focused on Child Development and Developmental Milestones; 85% of children are connected to a medical home.
  • A full time fatherhood coordinator was hired to implement activities and coaching in the health center with dads, as well as build the capacity of health center staff to interact with dads and ensure their positive involvement in their children’s lives. 

Maria Yolanda Wigozki

Phone: 617 887-3845