Prevention is Better than Cure

Healthy Start program fights for funding

Senator Kalani English talks story with families of Healthy Start, an early intervention program that’s lost its funds to budget cuts this year. 

By Catherine Cluett

The common idiom isn’t the only evidence supporting the powers of prevention. Healthy Start is a program providing in-home services for pregnant women and families with newborns who are at-risk for child abuse or neglect. Over the past four years, there has been no abuse for over 99% of families remaining in Healthy Start for 12 months, according to a program publication.

But in these tough economic times, success may not be enough to keep Healthy Start on its feet. Statewide funds have been cut for this program as of January 10, 2009.

Last week, Senator Kalani English met with Molokai families, staff and supporters of the program to discuss its benefits to the community and options to recover program funding.

“I’d rather spend money on something like this than spending it to build prisons later,” said Sen. English, referring to the program, which targets preventative intervention. “Cuts like this may not be the most efficient way to save money.”

Two bills, one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives, have been introduced in support of continuation of Healthy Start funding.

Family planning, developmental screening, prenatal care, and home visiting are a few of the services offered to the community by Healthy Start.

Kenneth Gonzalez of the Department of Health pointed to the fact that early intervention studies have shown it costs the state much less to invest in preventative programs. “This helps state money by preventing crisis later,” he says.

Many mothers present at the meeting related how the program gave them reassurance that they weren’t on their own. Families offered first hand accounts of the program’s positive impact in their lives. Molokai’s Healthy Start Program Coordinator Shirley Burrows added that the program not only supports kids but the whole family.

Calling Healthy Start “a success story,” Sen. English pledged his support of the program.

He encouraged community members to approach the Governor’s Community Council to drum up support and awareness for the cause.

For more information, call the Molokai Healthy Start office at 553-8114.

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