Matern Child Health J 2014 Feb;18(2):396-404
Contra Costa Health Services, Family, Maternal and Child Health Programs, 597 Center Avenue, Suite 365, Martinez, CA, 94553, USA,
In recent years, maternal and child health professionals have been seeking approaches to integrating the Life Course Perspective and social determinants of health into their work. In this article, we describe how community input, staff feedback, and evidence from the field that the connection between wealth and health should be addressed compelled the Contra Costa Family, Maternal and Child Health (FMCH) Programs Life Course Initiative to launch Building Economic Security Today (BEST). BEST utilizes innovative strategies to reduce inequities in health outcomes for low-income Contra Costa families by improving their financial security and stability. FMCH Programs' Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) conducted BEST financial education classes, and its Medically Vulnerable Infant Program (MVIP) instituted BEST financial assessments during public health nurse home visits. Educational and referral resources were also developed and distributed to all clients. The classes at WIC increased clients' awareness of financial issues and confidence that they could improve their financial situations. WIC clients and staff also gained knowledge about financial resources in the community. MVIP's financial assessments offered clients a new and needed perspective on their financial situations, as well as support around the financial and psychological stresses of caring for a child with special health care needs. BEST offered FMCH Programs staff opportunities to engage in non-traditional, cross-sector partnerships, and gain new knowledge and skills to address a pressing social determinant of health. We learned the value of flexible timelines, maintaining a long view for creating change, and challenging the traditional paradigm of maternal and child health.