PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
02/15/2013

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Health Commissioner Congratulates Maternal Child Health Agency On Efforts To Give Babies a Strong Start in Life
(En Español )

New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd congratulated a maternal and child health agency in Central Jersey on being awarded a $1.7 million federal grant today to help 4,000 low-income pregnant women have healthier babies.

The Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, based in North Brunswick, will receive the funding over three years to ensure that women enrolled in Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare have healthier babies.

The ‘Strong Start' grant will help pregnant women in eight communities: Asbury Park, Long Branch, and Neptune in Monmouth County; Newark in Essex County; New Brunswick and Perth Amboy in Middlesex County; Trenton in Mercer County; and Lakewood in Ocean County.

The communities were selected because of higher than average preterm birth rates and number of low-birth weights. They also have large numbers of minority women who are single mothers; and the women are at high risk for having unhealthy babies.

"Congratulations to the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium on receiving the Strong Start grant," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "This award will enhance New Jersey's commitment to improving birth outcomes so more children have a healthier start in life. This initiative will be instrumental in helping the Department achieve its pledge to reduce premature births by 8 percent by 2014."

The Department supported the grant application and will partner with the agency to support its efforts with data as the initiative moves forward.

The consortium will bring groups of eight to twelve pregnant women together with a healthcare practitioner, either a physician or nurse midwife, to discuss challenges and receive education on changing unhealthy behaviors like avoiding alcohol and tobacco use.

"Central Jersey Family Health Consortium is very excited for the opportunity to bring the Strong Start Initiative to New Jersey," said Robyn D'Oria, executive director of the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium. "With this funding we will be able to assist in improving the health and wellness of the woman in our state and ultimately improving the lives of our infants. Our NJ Strong Start Initiative will help us to fulfill our mission and we are happy to be part of this very important program."

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary announced today that 27 agencies around the nation would receive new Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns awards, made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Up to $41.4 million can be used by states, caregivers and others to find new ways to prevent significant, long-term health problems for high-risk pregnant women and newborns enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

The Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative is an effort by HHS to reduce preterm births and improve outcomes for newborns and pregnant women. This initiative is a joint effort between the CMS, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Administration on Children and Families (ACF) and is also supported by various programs across the multiple agencies of HHS. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMS Innovation Center) will administer these awards through cooperative agreements over four years. 

For more information on the awards announced today, please go to: innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Strong-Start/index.html.

The Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, Inc. (CJFHC) is a leading private not for profit (501(c) 3) organization serving Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset, Monmouth and Ocean Counties and the Plainfield portion of Union County. Established in 1992, the organization is governed by a 48-member Board of Trustees. Its mission is to improve the health of women of childbearing age, infants, and children in the region through the collaborative efforts of member hospitals, providers, and consumers.