Metro Public Health and Wellness receives federal grant to provide mental health services to Healthy Start families

November 12, 2019

Federal grant to fund in-home counseling, family support groups and staff training

Watch the full press conference here.


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – (November 12, 2019) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which previously awarded the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness $4.6 million for its Healthy Start program, has now provided an additional $143,000 to provide mental health services to its Healthy Start families.

The funds will allow Healthy Start to add a certified, licensed social worker to do in-home counseling and will fund family support groups. It will also fund staff training to assess community health needs.  

Mayor Greg Fischer welcomed the additional funding for this “very important program,” noting that, “Healthy Start is giving our children a good start toward a healthy and productive life,” and the additional funding will address a real need – expanding mental health services.

“We thank Congressman John Yarmuth for his long-time support of Healthy Start and his help in securing this grant,” the Mayor said.

Healthy Start works to reduce infant mortality, the rate at which babies die before their first birthday, and to improve the health of newborns in five west Louisville ZIP Codes – 40203, 40208, 40210, 40211 and 40212. The infant mortality rate in these neighborhoods is more than double the overall rate in Louisville.

From 2013 – 2015 the infant mortality rate in the five Healthy Start ZIP Codes was 11.12 deaths per 100,000 live births and among African American babies in these ZIP Codes it was 13.68.  This compared to a rate of 5.30 for the overall Louisville area. Among participants in the Healthy Start program for this same period, however, the average yearly infant mortality rate was 1.13, well below the city average.

“Since I first came to Congress in 2007, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many Healthy Start families and I know the important role that the program plays in their lives,” said Congressman Yarmuth.  “I’m delighted that Healthy Start will now be able to provide expanded mental health services to our families.”

“Our vision is for a city where everyone and every community thrives,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness and Mayor Fischer’s Chief Health Strategist.  “These new dollars will allow us to integrate mental health services into our Healthy Start home visits. This is vitally important for women who may suffer postpartum depression, and for families who have experienced trauma.  Stigma around mental illness can make women reluctant to seek help outside the home.  Now we will be able to bring mental health services to them to complement the range of services we provide.”

Begun in Louisville in 1998, the Louisville Healthy Start program has served more than 10,000 children and their families, more than 800 last year alone.  The program promotes safe pregnancies by visiting the homes of pregnant women both before and after the birth of the child to ensure that women have early and continuous access to prenatal care, that they keep all their prenatal appointments and that newborns reach developmental milestones.  Other family support services include doulas, the WIC nutritional program, parenting classes, breastfeeding support, childhood immunizations, physical and mental health services and special fatherhood trainings.

The percentage of Healthy Start families in which fathers play an active role has increased from 14% in 2013 to 77% in 2015.  During the same period the percentage of mothers breastfeeding their children at six months rose from 50% to 75%.

For more information about Healthy Start click HERE or visit the 502 Fathers Facebook page.