Founded in 1990, Healthy Babies Project, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit community-based support system for pregnant and parenting women and their families in the District of Columbia.
Founder and visionary Dolores Farr, a retired nurse, believed that going into neighborhoods and homes and offering prenatal services to expectant women and their families could reverse and even eliminate the senseless loss of life in our nation’s capital. Her aim was to reduce the dangerously high rates of infant mortality (22.2 infant deaths per 1000 live births in 1999) and to be a bridge to building stronger family units by involving fathers in raising their children.
For more than two decades, HBP has canvassed the community, reaching out to high-risk, low-income, pregnant and parenting women, men, and families and bringing them to care. The agency has been particularly effective in reaching the underserved in Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8.
New partnership, new building
A special partnership with the Family Health and Birth Center (FHBC) led HBP to move into the Developing Families Center in 2000. FHBC moved into the same space in 2001. The partnership has proved overwhelmingly mutually beneficial for clients, especially when it comes to providing them with proximity to services. HBP offers health, wellness, and social services support for clients and can refer them immediately to FHBC, which provides prenatal care and ongoing medical support for female clients in perpetuity and for male clients until age 21.
In 2002, HBP began supplementing its one-on-one care by offering a series of classes in childbirth education, prenatal yoga, and health, mental health and child development to expectant parents. Classes allowed more clients to be served and cultivated a support network among those served.
TPEP: Reaching and serving more teen parents
HBP soon discovered that numbers of pregnant teen clients increased every year and pregnant teens had specific needs that could not be met by its regular services. To meet those needs, the agency launched its three-phase Teen Parent Empowerment Program (TPEP) in 2003. TPEP has been particularly effective in helping teen clients have healthy pregnancies, experience excellent birth outcomes, and plan and implement the next step to a productive future — whether it is graduating from high school, completing a GED, attending trade school or college, entering the work force, or joining the military.
With success, more opportunities
Increasing success – and demands – led HBP to add Effective Black Parenting classes, a Developing Dads program, and three Parents Anonymous support groups in 2004.
In 2008, HBP implemented smoking cessation groups to empower families to reduce cigarette use to the point of abstinence, to become aware of tobacco’s effects on children, and to understand the impact of tobacco on family health and development. Funding from DC Tobacco-Free Families also included an educational program for HBP’s TPEP clients, equipping them to understand the devastating effects of second-hand smoke exposure to unborn children and one another.
Since then, HBP has also sponsored reading groups for children and families, Baby Book-A-Month parties, and Family Fun Nights by way of equipping clients to raise healthy, stimulated children.
Healthy Babies Project has served more than 2,700 women directly since its inception. Each year, its services directly or indirectly impact 1,500+ District residents.