The Role of the Consortia
At the heart of Healthy Start is the belief that the community, guided by a consortium of individuals and organizations - including families, community leaders and organizations from the private, public and nonprofit sectors - can best design and implement the services needed by the families in that community.
Thanks to input provided by the Regional Consortia, Healthy Start harnesses the power of collaboration to reduce infant mortality in Allegheny County.
The Healthy Start project area is comprised of six service areas, primarily within Allegheny County. These areas were targeted because they accounted for 43% of the infant deaths in Allegheny County, with 79% of these deaths occurring in the City of Pittsburgh. Given the fact that the project covers six separate and distinct geographic locations, community representation from these areas is an important factor in achieving credibility among the target populations.
Each of the six service areas has a consortium that is comprised of 18 to 25 members, including participants, service providers, public officials and members of the clergy and business community. Each member of the team is quite familiar with and representative of the neighborhoods they serve.
In addition to playing a crucial advisory role, each consortia serves as the primary liaison between Healthy Start and the community, acting as regional advocates for the project’s initiatives.
Major accomplishments of these groups include: enhancing participant involvement in the evaluation of services; increasing provider responsibility in maintaining consumer participation in the system and improving sensitivity of providers to community cultural, linguistic and gender needs; increasing the efficiency of agency records systems and sharing of data across providers (within confidentiality limitations); and establishing a community structure to assist with on-going program implementation.
Through the involvement of the Regional Consortia, numerous partnerships have emerged and/or been strengthened, and has created a network of service collaboration, innovation and change in the way service providers do business.
Thanks in large measure to these partnerships, Healthy Start has the combined strength of the Allegheny County Health Department, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Maternal Health Bureau, along with the flexibility of a community-based public-private entity in which participants and providers have a shared voice in maintaining the vision of the project.
The shared vision has always been to encourage grassroots participation and involvement from the community in establishing and bringing programs to fruition. The success achieved by the six Regional Consortia to date has been achieved through ownership, empowerment, and collective responsibility.
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