Universal Screening for Expectant Mothers

What is an example of success?

One such client was “Lindsey,” an expectant mother who went to the hospital on Sept. 22 for abdominal pain. She had been in rehab for opioid addiction when she found out she was pregnant. Our specialist called her the very next day and learned Lindsey was working full-time as a home health care assistant, was single with no family in the area, and had been denied Medicaid. She told the screener she felt like she was in crisis. Our screener was able to refer her for home visiting, counseling and a free car seat. She also was connected with Project LINK for women battling substance abuse, the Village Midwife practice, WIC, free parenting classes and eight other programs.

Lindsey’s baby is now much more likely to be born healthy—and to a mother who is more physically and emotionally prepared for parenthood. These early interventions have a big payoff on school readiness… which in turn make children more likely to graduate high school, stay out of jail, hold a job, and become a productive citizen. It all starts early and it all starts here.

Why is Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula uniquely suited to do this?

  • We are a neutral/ impartial entity that serves both Hampton & Newport News equally, with no conflict of interest

  • We are not viewed by the public or the health community as an assistance program. (Often health providers are reluctant to refer their patients to programs perceived to be “assistance,” for fear of offending them).

  • Medical practices do not have the time or staff to do a complete screen and make referrals. Once a risk is identified, it must be dealt with. (We sometimes spend upwards of 45 min doing a screen and referrals—physicians do not have that luxury.)

  • We are able to keep current on what is available in the community.

  • Because the Universal Screen is a one-stop shop for prenatal resources, there is less duplication of services.  

  • Having a mother who is healthy and ready to parent fits perfectly with our goal of having every child ready to learn upon entering kindergarten.

Doctor Examining Pregnant Woman

What is it?

A one-stop shop for free and low-cost prenatal resources, to foster healthier pregnancies, better birth outcomes, and more prepared parents.  

How does it work?

We were concerned that many pregnant women in the area were only connected with family services after giving birth, so in 2011 we partnered with Hampton/Newport News Healthy Families to create a one-stop shop for prenatal resources. Pregnant patients at local hospitals, WIC and obstetrics offices are given a consent form to speak with a prenatal resource specialist from Smart Beginnings. The specialist then screens the patients to identify common risk factors and connect them to resources, no matter their socioeconomic status.