In 2007, a group of caring organizations in Kent County, Michigan began focused discussions to create Welcome Home Baby (WHB), a universal gateway for newborns and their families. The idea was to create a consistent entry point for families as they enter the system of early childhood in Kent County, and a universal method to identify families so they can receive information and support that is customized to their needs. In 2010, the original group of organizations partnered with First Steps, and Welcome Home Baby began a phased implementation in the three hospital systems between October 2010 and April 2011.
How It Works
Eligible parents who have their baby at Metro Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s or Spectrum Health are offered Welcome Home Baby services in the hospital. Welcome Home Baby is also available to adoptive parents or those who have their babies at home or outside of Kent County. WHB is a free, supportive program available to Kent County mothers and/or fathers who have an infant under 30 days old and are one or more of the following:
- First-time Parent
- 25 years or younger
- Giving birth in the U.S. for the first time
Welcome Home Baby services include a one-time nurse home visit to weigh the baby and talk with parents about any concerns they may have, including lactation support and postpartum depression screening. A welcome bag of many resources is given to every family, and the nurse tailors referrals to other agencies and resources based on the family’s individual needs, with their consent. The nurse coordinates with Referral Specialists to facilitate the family’s entrance into the Early Childhood System, removing overwhelming and complex steps for new parents so they don’t have to navigate the system on their own.
Welcome Home Baby is a collaborative effort involving all three of the major hospital systems, the Kent Intermediate School District, Kent County government and numerous human service agencies. Referral partners include: Bright Beginnings, Connections, Early Head Start, Early On, Infant Toddler Program, Inter-Tribal Council, Kent County Healthy Start, Maternal Infant Health Program–Cherry Street Health Services,Maternal Infant Health Program–Kent County Health Department, Moms Bloom, Spectrum MOMS and Strong Beginnings.
As a gateway model, one of the primary functions of Welcome Home Baby is to connect families to quality home visiting programs and other early childhood services that support parents. Since 2010, 6,459 referrals have been made to the 17 partner agencies in Kent County.
Additional detail on Welcome Home Baby is available in our 2011 and 2012 reports, available below:
For more information about Welcome Home Baby, please contact Christina Pavlak, Program Manager.
Main WHB Phone Line: (616) 632-1001
WHB Fax: (616) 632-1006