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The College of William & Mary received a nearly $50,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for work being done with the Healthy Beginnings Project.
Composed of educators, medical personnel and students, the Healthy Beginnings Project works with local correctional facilities to provide pregnancy tests and prenatal vitamins to women who enter those facilities.
The only program of its kind nationally, the Healthy Beginnings Project plays an important role locally in helping incarcerated mothers identify pregnancy early and deliver healthy babies. The program also helps new parents and caregivers transition to caring for an infant in its first year.
In addition to the grant money, William & Mary also announced it will begin collaborating with Virginia Commonwealth University, which also received funding on the project.
“This funding is incredibly important,” said Healthy Beginnings principal investigator and Associate Professor of Psychology at William & Mary, Danielle Dallaire. “It allows us to continue to provide services to these women and expand partnerships with VCU and local health departments.”
Many jails nationwide do not provide pregnancy screenings for inmates, which is one of the reasons Healthy Beginnings is so important. The project funds these screenings, in addition to prenatal vitamins and educational resources for expecting mothers.
With the assistance of the Healthy Beginnings Project, which was started in 2012, babies are on average 6 ounces heavier than those born of incarcerated mothers who do not participate in the program.
Additionally, more than 15 percent of Healthy Beginnings babies spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit, compared to 22 percent of non-program babies in the same facility.
For more information about the Healthy Beginnings Project, click here.