This research took place virtually and in-person, in English and in Spanish. 121 people, from 10 states, participated in the research. This group included single parents, people facing housing insecurity and homelessness, people who are justice-involved, and people with disabilities.
How might we factor in the physical goods that families need in the first year after childbirth to help people start their journey with essentials in hand?
How might we empower organizations and staff in local communities to help families have greater awareness and streamlined access to available benefits?
How might we help people have the right information at the right time about enrolling in benefits and the process to renew them as needed?
The project connects families welcoming a new baby to supportive services through an Alumni Peer Navigator program that is convenient, culturally competent, and appropriately tailored to specific communities.
The work includes collaborating with families and staff to design the service, training, and tools through an iterative process; and hiring and supporting Healthy Start alumni in their new alumni peer navigator (APN) role to help new families connect with resources and social support.
Help new families access benefits and care, reduce maternal stress, and increase maternal social connectedness.
Increase trust and improve the experience of participating in the Healthy Start program, leading to a better connection to resources for issues including substance use disorder, domestic violence, and mental health.
Create a viable workforce pathway for mothers to engage in meaningful yet flexible work.
Strengthen relationships across support systems to deepen health equity efforts in communities and ensure families are aware of and able to use services available at the Federal, State, local, Tribal, or Territory levels.
The Benefits Bundle pilot assists grantees of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Healthy Start program, a longstanding Federal program to reduce infant mortality rates and address social determinants of health. The Benefits Bundle team developed a new peer-based model to help Healthy Start families navigate the transition to parenthood. For this peer-based model, the team created the role of “Alumni Navigator,” a mother who recently completed the Healthy Start program at the pilot location, and has experience navigating benefits enrollment (e.g., Medicaid and WIC) and accessing key community resources and supports. Alumni Navigators are therefore uniquely qualified to provide new families with social, informational, and emotional support and deliver a “bundled” set of critical resources. The six pilot partner grantees have collectively hired 16 Alumni Navigators who have served more than 170 families across grantee sites (Atlanta, Baton Rouge, New York City, Los Angeles, the PeeDee Region, and Turtle Mountain Reservation). The interagency Benefits Bundle team included perspectives from HHS (both ACF and CMS), DOL, HUD, and USDA in developing the “Benefits Bundle” set of resources for Healthy Start families. Among the set of Federal benefits, the Alumni Navigators are focusing on WIC and Medicaid.
The team expects to summarize insights from the six pilots in a Benefits Bundle Playbook to inform other Federal programs and State Medicaid programs; the team will iterate and fine tune the guide in FY24 Q2.
Measures of success
By connecting families via personal case management with a Benefits Bundle of core public benefits programs and reducing barriers to accessing those programs and benefits:
- Families will have greater awareness of and easier access to public benefits (increasing multi-program enrollment for those who are eligible)
- Enrollment gaps in core birth to early childhood programs will shrink
- Maternal and caregiver stress will measurably reduce
Design phase project measures
The project partners with a nonprofit to deliver a one-time, universal kit in collaboration with hospitals and community organizations that provides families with basic physical supplies crucial in the first few weeks after delivery, including diapers and wipes.
The work includes an iterative approach to how kits are delivered and the contents of what is delivered. It also includes resources about Federal programs and benefits, key developmental milestones, and other helpful information to build trust and form a foundation of relationships for further service connections. This work may be expanded and tailored to Veteran mothers in a future pilot.
Increase trust in government, decrease financial stress and worry at the time of birth, decrease emotional stress, improve maternal health, and increase awareness of relevant Federal government benefits and programs.
Reduce the stigma associated with seeking government services and reduce disparities in typically underserved communities through a universal, equitable distribution approach.
The team designed a Newborn Supply Kit to provide new families with basic educational materials and physical supplies needed in the first few weeks postpartum, modeled from successful programs in other countries. Following the establishment of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between HHS and a nonprofit delivery partner, Baby2Baby, Vice President Kamala Harris and ACF Administrator January Contreras launched the pilot in May 2023. Since then, seven pilot site distribution partners have provided 3,000 Newborn Supply Kits to any mother having a baby at a pilot site hospital, which were selected based on high maternal and infant mortality rates, high rates of maternal mental health conditions, and areas that score highly on the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. Pilot sites are currently operating in Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico.
Data available from HHS reflects that those receiving Kits include historically underserved populations, including those living in rural areas, Tribal populations, and those with very low incomes. Preliminary participant feedback suggests that families are very satisfied with the contents of their Kit. Early data shows trends that receiving a Kit may improve families’ trust in government and may make them more likely to enroll in support programs for which they are likely eligible. The team’s initial findings make the Newborn Supply Kit a compelling model for further research as a mechanism to reach and build trust with new families.
Measures of success
By providing families with a Kit, the project aims to:
- Reduce financial and parental stress on mothers and caregivers in the immediate postpartum period
- Increase awareness and thereby timelier enrollment of eligible families in critical support programs
- Increase trust in Federal benefits programs
Design phase project measures
This project pilots a Federal notification service that will enable Federal benefits programs at the State and local level to send text messages to recipients at crucial points throughout the benefits enrollment and renewal process, as well as educational messages.
The first pilot use case focuses on developing and evaluating SMS messages on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) renewal behaviors.
Improve the customer experience for eligible families through better communication, reduced administrative burdens, and increased access to benefits.
Increase completion of promoted action (e.g., Medicaid renewal) through effective text message campaign design.
Strengthen program staff confidence utilizing texting and decrease program administrative costs.
The team designed and launched a prototype for a new Federal notification service, Notify.gov (now available in beta), to be used by State and local agencies that administer Federal programs. As envisioned, these agencies will be able to send text messages at crucial points throughout the benefits application and renewal process to help families know about, enroll in, and re-certify for the Federal programs that provide them with support.
For the first iteration of the prototype, the team has been collaborating with the City of Norfolk (Virginia) Department of Human Services to co-design a texting campaign. The end of the Public Health Emergency led to changes in eligibility rules for multiple Federal programs, including Medicaid and CHIP. In Virginia, the notification service will help thousands of Virginia families learn about Medicaid renewal deadlines and requirements to enable eligible families to maintain health insurance coverage.
Measures of success
A successful notification service will streamline information about available resources and reduce the administrative burden on families navigating benefits programs. Outcome measures will include families’ responses to the pilot notification (such as if they choose to receive messages and engage with them), whether program participation increases, and whether program churn decreases.
Design phase project measures:
- Portfolio Charter
- Portfolio Summary
- Design Project Summary: Piloting a Benefits Bundle Approach for Families Navigating Supports
- Design Project Summary: Piloting a Newborn Supply Kit at the Time of Birth
- Design Project Summary: Piloting Text Message Notifications for Critical Updates
- Customer Journey Map & Stories
- Information collection approved under OMB Control #3206-0276
- Life Experience Initiative Summary
- Executive Order 14058
- President’s Management Agenda
- General Services Administration (GSA)
- Department of Labor (DOL)
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
- Department of Education (ED)
- Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)