Healthier Kids Foundation is well attuned to the needs of families with newborns in Santa Clara County. Its Baby Gateway program has enrolled over 24,000 families and newborns in medical insurance since 2013. The foundation’s case managers enroll babies in Medi-Cal if they are eligible, and they help the babies’ families find a medical home and learn to navigate the healthcare system.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, staff realized the families’ needs were growing. Due to panic buying, stores had shortages of diapers, baby formula, and other supplies.
“One of the things we heard very commonly from the mothers and families we helped enroll was that a lot of families were really scared to go to the store – they didn’t want their kids to get sick, and they were afraid that going out would put their kids in danger,” said Marissa Hacker, the foundation’s development manager. “We decided to respond to the community and the needs they expressed.”
Healthier Kids Foundation shifted their program’s focus to helping families get the supplies they needed.
In the past seven months, using grant funding received through SVCF’s Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund, and a gift from Sobrato Family Foundation, the program has sent care packages of diapers, diaper wipes, baby shampoo, baby lotion and a toy to 771 families of newborns. The packages were delivered to the families’ homes, to eliminate unnecessary exposure by going out.
To find families who would benefit from a care package, the foundation worked with hospitals and other partners. Staff also proactively called families who were previous clients to see if the pandemic had triggered new needs. The recipients of the care packages were grateful.
“Ever since COVID 19, I have not been able to work and I have not been able to provide my baby with his everyday essentials,” one recipient said. “I am constantly worrying about the items he needs when I am running low. I also worry for his safety when I go out, which I try not to do too much.”
“When I received my package, I was so excited and happy. I felt much calmer because I didn’t have to worry about my baby having diapers, which he really needed.”
And the program did more than simply provide the supplies the families needed — it showed them that the community would support them as they add to their families during the pandemic.
“Many of us fear for our babies’ health and wonder if we will have money to buy what our children need,” said another recipient. “This program gives us hope and reminds us that our community is strong and we help one another."
The Baby Gateway program also started helping families in other ways. Program staff are working with Santa Clara County to help essential workers enroll their kids in daycare. For many of these workers, their regular daycare or their children’s school closed during the pandemic, but they still needed childcare to go to work.
“At Healthier Kids Foundation, we are all about helping families in our community and we have never known a greater need, from helping new parents get the supplies they need such as diapers and formula to helping essential workers with their daycare needs,”said Kathleen King, CEO of Healthier Kids Foundation. “We feel so good when someone thanks and blesses us for our work, and we thank those that have donated and allowed us to do this.”
The Baby Gateway program is just one of several programs Healthier KidsFoundation runs. Others include:
- VisionFirst, which provides vision screening to children;
- DentalFirst, which provides dental screenings and assistance accessing follow-up care;
- HearingFirst, which screens children for undetected hearing issues and assists them with obtaining hearing services and treatment; and
- 10 Steps To A Healthier You!, which offers classes for parents on preventing childhood obesity.
These programs often take place in schools, which meant they had to be delayed once schools closed their campuses due to the pandemic. Members of the case management and screening teams, who speak English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, pivoted from providing screenings to offering services to families.
They discovered a huge need for help. Many of the families the foundation had worked with were hard hit by both COVID-19 and the ensuing shutdown. They lost jobs and food insecurities grew. They needed assistance with food, rent, clothing, insurance, domestic violence support, and employment services. Part of the case management team is now helping connect these families with the resources they need — and they have served 14,500 individuals since COVID-19 began to disrupt the United States.
Looking forward, the foundation is working with FIRST 5 Santa Clara County to become a distribution site for supplies that families of infants can pick up when they need them.
Check out the list of nonprofit organizations that have received grants from our Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund.The list is being updated regularly.
As of August 9, SVCF has distributed $194 million in COVID-19-related grants. To view the total amount of grants SVCF has distributed through its COVID-19 response funds, click here. Visit our blog to read more stories of local heroes—donors, nonprofits, businesses—that highlight the power of our community coming together and helping lift each other out of this crisis.