Over the last two years, Guilford County government has made a priority out of improving the health and survival rate of minority and other children born in the county and that program is reaping results and getting national attention.

On Wednesday, May 31, Guilford County announced that the Every Baby Guilford program had earned a national award for its work to reduce infant mortality.

Each year, the National Association of Counties (NACo) offers the NACo Achievement Awards in 18 categories covering various services that counties provide. Those categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and several others.

Every Baby Guilford earned a Best in Category award for health programs.

Among other things, Every Baby Guilford is attempting to close the gap in disparity between infant mortality in the county.  In Guilford County, black babies are three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthday.

For decades, Guilford County’s infant mortality rate has been higher than state and national averages.  In June 2021, the county – led by the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health – launched Every Baby Guilford, which the county calls “a radically inclusive collective action movement”  that’s “a community-led process that builds collaborative solutions by centering and working with the community for advancing equity and achieving social change.”

The goal of Every Baby Guilford is to reduce infant mortality disparities by 50 percent by 2026 and eliminate disparities entirely by 2031.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, who has been a staunch advocate of the program, commented on the effort in light of the award.

“Black and Brown newborns deserve the same chance at life as White infants, and for decades, people have been trying to eliminate disparities for communities but not with communities,” Alston said in the prepared statement.  “Every Baby Guilford changes that by putting the community at the very heart of the work to save the lives of our infants.”

For 2023, Guilford County also won NACo awards for other programs as well.  The county earned Criminal Justice and Public Safety category awards for Saving Lives: High-Risk Case Review Teams at the Guilford County Family Justice Center, and for Emergency Services’ Interagency Medical Provider Assessment and Care Team (IMPACT) Project.  In the category of Risk and Emergency Management, Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem (GCSTOP) program garnered an award.

Alston stated that he was excited about the work of those programs as well.

“I’m extremely proud of the work underway by this collective-impact group and am pleased to see them recognized on the national stage,” he said.  “I also appreciate the recognition of Guilford County’s work to improve our emergency medical response, prevent domestic violence-related homicides, and decrease the number of people dying from opioid overdoses all of which focus on collaboration, innovation, and evidence-based approaches. When we work as One Guilford, we can save lives and achieve great things.”