Guilford County government is expected to approve $1.5 million this week to continue a program that’s meant to keep newborns healthy at birth as well as for years afterward as they develop into school-aged children.

The program – Ready for School, Ready for Life – works with expectant and new parents and their families to help see that the birth and early years of infants are successful and healthy ones.

The money from the county will help pay for four “community navigators.”  Those are workers in OB/GYN and pediatric practices in Guilford County who’ll support new mothers and fathers and “increase access to resources that support the growth of babies and infants, and reduce infant mortality.”

The program is described as one that establishes “a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families.”

Navigators meet with families and teach healthy habits and connect those families – which often fall below the poverty line – with the resources, information and available support services they need to promote healthy child development.

One goal of the program is to see that every child born in Guilford County enters kindergarten on time  as a healthy youngster with the tools and support needed to succeed.

Another longer-term goal is to teach other North Carolina counties how to replicate the program.

In fact, Ready for School, Ready for Life – also known as “Ready, Ready” – just received a $50,000 grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative to develop a plan to share Ready Ready’s strategies and lessons learned with other North Carolina cities and counties, as well as other states, to help them develop a similar prenatal program.

In recent years, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners has been extremely focused on attempting to reduce the alarming number of infant deaths in Guilford County and this program is a key one in that effort.

Earlier in this fiscal year, the commissioners set aside the $1.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) money with plans to fund the service.