Families need more support
Today, basic newborn supplies, such as diapers It can cost an average of $1,000 a year for each diaper-wearing child in a household. Besides, almost 1 in 8 women – regardless of their age, income or race – will suffer from some form of postpartum anxiety or depression, a number that is increasing among women in the United States. Additionally, mental health conditions now include 23% of deaths related to pregnancy – more than any other category.
In an effort to alleviate some of these stressors on new families, governments in at least 91 other countries and municipalities offer new families a “Baby Box” when a child is born. In addition to offering much-needed physical products, these baby boxes are designed to offer critical information about postpartum care and promote greater interaction between parents and their healthcare providers.
“This whole kit is amazing and I love that it’s started. The United States has been behind other countries in supporting parents after birth, so I’m glad to see something like this. Please keep up the good work and spread the word more. Our parents need this support.”
– New mom, digital survey feedback
The Newborn Supply Kit
The Biden-Harris Administration is fighting to give all children an equal start in life. This includes a commitment to improve the experience of having a baby. Given strong evidence of the positive impact baby box programs have on improving maternal and child health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a partnership with baby2babe, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, to create and pilot a newborn supply kit program in three states selected based on maternal health vulnerability and need. We have implemented the program universally within specific areas in each of the three states, meaning that every mother served by one of our pilot partners will receive a kit.
In addition to offering baby items like a month’s supply of diapers and wipes, the newborn supply kit also offers supplies for new parents, like witch hazel pads and nipple cream, to aid in physical recovery from childbirth. The kit also includes critical information on topics such as breastfeeding and safe sleep, information on how to contact the new HHS maternal health hotline (1-833-TLC-MAMA or 1-833-852-6262), and a link to a new website for Parents, www.hhs.gov/newbaby, which gives new parents access to additional information about education, health and benefits.
Launching the pilot
In this pilot phase, which will run through early 2024, the Newborn Supply Kit team is distributing 3,000 kits through partnerships with hospitals and community organizations in Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. These states were selected because of their high levels of maternal mortality, infant mortality, postpartum depression, and high social vulnerability index scores. The team is also conducting an evaluation to determine the kit’s effects on maternal mental health, financial stress, and trust in government. We are already learning whether the educational information provided in the kit was helpful in navigating and applying for other government benefit programs, such as housing, food, cash, child care, or other assistance, for those who may be eligible. Our team hopes to build on these initial findings to reach historically harder-to-reach populations and reduce the enrollment gap in government benefit programs for those who are eligible but not enrolled.
Our initial results show promising effects of the kits on the health and well-being of new parents. Here are a few select finds to date:
Recipients are satisfied with the kit and would recommend it to others. Almost all (97%) of respondents reported being “extremely satisfied” or “satisfied” with their newborn supply kit. Similarly, 98% of respondents reported that they would recommend that other new parents receive a newborn supply kit. Among data collected to date, this response was even stronger among Spanish-speaking recipients, with 100% of participants recommending the kit.
“I think this is an incredible life-changing kit for so many families in a state where many people are struggling or worried about having the resources to care for their baby.”
– New mom, digital survey feedback
Participants report that the kit improves maternal mental health outcomes. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that receiving their newborn supply kit helped them feel less anxious or worried. This trend was especially high among Spanish speakers, among whom more than three-quarters (78%) said they felt less anxiety or worry after receiving a kit.
With a universal distribution approach, we are reaching our target populations. Among hospital survey participants who chose to respond to demographic information, one-third reported household income less than $20,000 per year and most Kit recipients earn less than $50,000 per year. Of the respondents, 31% are Hispanic, 28% are Black or African American, 27% of the respondents were White, 5% are American Indian or Alaska Native, 3% are Asian or Pacific Islander, and 5% are Asian or Pacific Islander. Remaining % of participants reported having been selected. “other.”
Receiving physical goods is decreasing the recipients’ financial stress. Again, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the newborn supply kit helped them feel less stressed about money. This trend was also particularly strong among Spanish-speaking respondents, with 73% responding similarly. To measure decreased financial stress, the survey also asks whether the newborn supply kit saved families money on things they otherwise would have had to purchase. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this statement, and nearly all (95%) of Spanish-speaking participants also reported positive agreement on this measure.
“The newborn supply kit takes a LOT of stress away from me, not just a little bit. It takes away a ton of stress and I don’t have to deal with the hassle of going from one organization to another.”
– New Mom, Louisiana Focus Group Feedback
Self-reported trust in the government is increasing due to the newborn supply kit program. we know it from public surveys that trust in government has declined after the pandemic and is at its lowest levels in decades (for example, 20% of respondents in a national survey indicated that they trust the government in Washington to do the right thing). After asking kit recipients if they had heard of HHS, our survey asked, “How much do you trust the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the health and well-being of children?” and new parents after the birth of a child?” The survey asks respondents to think about this before and after receiving their kit. When answering “before” receiving their kit, respondents report a 29% positive rating from HHS. However, trust scores after receiving their kit increased to a 64% positive rating, more than double participants’ self-reported trust in government ratings. Much of this change is due to both the decrease in the number of negative perceptions of trust in HHS and people moving from a neutral trust score to a positive trust score.
“Big allocation of resources…Louisiana is the last state to get anything normally… [This kit helps] to gain the trust of mothers and families…”
– Louisiana Partner
The resources and information included in the kit are increasing awareness of and self-reported enrollment in federal government benefit programs, especially among Spanish-speaking participants. The survey asked recipients to report whether they applied for government benefit programs (e.g., Medicaid, WIC, SNAP, TANF) because of the information they received in their newborn supply kit. A quarter (25%) of respondents indicated that they had applied for additional programs, demonstrating that this initiative is a way to continue closing the enrollment gap in federal benefit programs. This trend was also especially strong among Spanish-speaking respondents: Nearly two-thirds (63%) reported having applied for programs for which they might be eligible.
These early results suggest that programs like the newborn supply kit can have a positive impact on new parents’ health and financial stress (and increase trust in government) at a critical and life-changing time when they give welcoming a new child into the world. The newborn supply kit team plans to release a full public report on the program’s findings once all kits have been distributed and analysis is completed, in 2024. The final report will provide updated data on the results reported here .
Improvements in 2024
For the immediate future, the newborn supply kit program plans to continue through 2024 in select, targeted geographic locations. The team is using the findings from the pilot initiative to modify the content of the kit (including improving or adding new information about educational or government benefits), continue (and potentially improve the rigor of) the evaluation to demonstrate the causal impacts of receiving the kit in the outcome measures. of interest and potentially test elements such as delivery time in an effort to have the greatest impact for new families.
If you have questions or would like more information about the Newborn Supply Kit program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.