The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. 

—Oliver Wendell Holmes 


California voters approve Proposition 10: The California Children and Families First Act which results in the addition of a 50-cent surtax on cigarettes and tobacco products. The monies generated are intended to improve early childhood development from the prenatal period to age five.



  • Perinatal stakeholders in Los Angeles County come together to discuss coordinating efforts between experts, regions and disciplines to better address the needs of pregnant women, fathers and families in Los Angeles County.
  • The Los Angeles Children and Families Proposition 10 Commission (now First 5 LA) designates $15 million for a Healthy Births Initiative (HBI) intended to improve birth outcomes in Los Angeles County.
  • The goals outlined for the HBI are to reduce the number of low birthweight and very low birthweight babies and to reduce disease and disability among newborns, thus improving every child's chance for lifelong good health, growth, development, and learning.
  • LA Best Babies Network is created to develop the HBI.

2001 - 2003

During an intensive two-year planning phase LA Best Babies Network and its network of perinatal stakeholders gathers information on pregnancy and birth outcomes in diverse LA County communities and develops strategies to respond to their needs.

The planning phase involves

  • Identifying new trends in healthcare services for pregnant women, children and families.
  • Providing forums for community-based organizations and healthcare professionals to forge new partnerships.
  • Providing support and technical assistance to community-based organizations in  the areas of
    • participatory action research
    • conducting community-based needs assessment
    • grant writing
    • program evaluation
    • use of media
    • policy and advocacy training
    • health topics



July 8, 2004: The First 5 LA Commission approves LA Best Babies Network's framework for the implementation of the Healthy Birth Initiative. The initial programs that LA Best Babies Network oversees include:

  • Best Babies Collaboratives (BBCs):  Each BBC is a collection of agencies based in a community with a large concentration of high-risk pregnancies. Through the BBC, these agencies improve and expand coordinated prenatal and interconception care using a strategy of intensive one-on-one case management, outreach, social support, and health education.
  • Healthy Births Learning Collaboratives (HBLCs): Each HBLC is a community-driven forum where perinatal caregivers and advocates exchange ideas and experiences, keep current on best practices, and coordinate to improve health and well-being in their communities. The HBLCs' goal is to build community assets and create system-wide changes.
  • The Healthy Births Advisory Board
  • The Care Quality Improvement Initiative 



  • Oct. 24-25, 2005: Los Angeles County Perinatal Summit, Phase I: Healthy Births Through Healthy Communities: Connecting Leadership to Achieve a Unified Commitment to Action
    • 170 attendees representing more than 60 organizations
    • Planned by LA Best Babies Network, LA County Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Programs (MCAH), and the March of Dimes
    • Mission of the summit: to optimize the health and well-being of every pregnant woman and child through improvements in the quality and delivery of equitable care from the prenatal period through the first years of life.
    • Goals of the summit:
      • Engage communities and exchange knowledge on community-based interventions to promote optimal birth outcomes.
      • Connect leadership to unite efforts and achieve synergy in order to improve birth outcomes.
      • Build sustainable policies and eliminate disparities in care.
      • Achieve a unified commitment to action to effectively improve birth outcomes.
  • Strategic recommendations from the summit are distilled into five action areas, which are then delivered to health leaders, representing health plans, hospitals, public agencies and foundations. The five action areas are:
  1. Build upon and strengthen comprehensive perinatal services for all women
  2. Assure every eligible newborn is enrolled in Medical before leaving the hospital
  3. Integrate perinatal resources into the 2-1-1 system
  4. Promote risk appropriate perinatal care
  5. Support every woman to have a reproductive life plan



  • Launch of Healthy Births Care Quality Collaborative in partnership with the National Initiative for Children’s Health Care Quality.  This collaborative, one of only a handful of such efforts in the US, is focused on offering patients seamless access to support and services which include:
    • 10 sites, comprinsing 7 community clinics, 2 private practice, and one hospital-based practice site.
    •  A quality framework for ambulatory perinatal care
    • A data registry for the practice sites to regularly assess their progress
    • A focus on wellness, including: detecting and treating maternal depression, screening and treating gestational diabetes, as well as assisting pregnant women to quit smoking, fight infections and follow a healthy diet.
  • Los Angeles County Perinatal Summit, Phase II:  Development of the Perinatal Summit Action Plan with health leaders committed to action under each of the five recommended key action areas.
  • Los Angeles County Perinatal Summit, Phase III:  Implementation (July 2006 – December 2007).



Perinatal Policy

  • The Network develops and disseminates the Pregnancy and Family Friendly Workplace Policies Brief.  The brief provides recommendations to employers on developing and implementing policies to support pregnant and parenting women. It is distributed to more than 3,000 Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce members.



Perinatal Policy:

  •  March 19, 2008: The Network hosts Building Capacity to Address Maternal Depression Workshop
    • More than 150 participants
    • Focus is on the importance of screening for maternal depression and connecting Network members to available resources in L.A. County for mothers needing mental health services.
    • Participants receive practical resources from a number of organizations, including LA Best Babies Network’s "Perinatal Depression Resource Guide for Los Angeles County"  produced in partnership with 211 LA County.
  • The Network partners with 211 LA County to increase the number of perinatal mental health resources included in their database

Care Quality:

  • The Network launches a second Healthy Births Care Quality Collaborative after the success of the first (8 out of 10 sites increased the number of women screened and treated by 20% above baselines in one or more measures).
    • Includes 10 clinical sites, all approved Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program providers.
    • Clinic teams are focused on: improving screening for maternal depression; perinatal infection; gestational diabetes; and tobacco, alcohol, and substance use; and on education and support for breastfeeding and perinatal nutrition.
    • The Network develops a Postpartum Visit toolkit for the clinics.
  • UniHealth Foundation awards $400,000 grant to LA Best Babies Network to improve the quality of postpartum care in LA County’s multicultural communities. The grant helps fund a collaborative of 10 clinical sites that work with LABBN to develop interventions to address gaps in postpartum care among racial and ethnic groups.
  • L.A. Care Health Plan awards a $50,000 grant to LA Best Babies Network to address perinatal health disparities among African-American women in South Los Angeles.  The grant helps fund The Network’s work with four clinics in South Los Angeles and provides technical assistance to implement best practice clinical guidelines aimed at reducing health disparities.

Healthy Births Collaboratives

  • An Expansion grant from First 5 LA funds the creation of four additional Best Babies Collaboratives

Home Visitation

  • First 5 LA awards The Network a $2.5 million two-year grant to oversee the coordination and implementation of the  universal home visitation program, Welcome Baby!.
    • Maternal and Child Health Access (MCHA), in partnership with California Hospital Medical Center are chosen to carry out the home visits
    • The visits are intended enhance parenting skills and introduce new families to the wide range of services offered by Best Start LA.


  • LA Best Babies Network launches Live a Healthy Life, a bilingual (Spanish and English) web portal for Moms and Mothers-to-be.



Perinatal Policy

  • First 5 LA Community Opportunities Fund awards LA Best Babies Network  a grant for advocacy work in the area of maternal mental health.

Healthy Births Collaboratives

  • The Network hosts a Case Manager Training Workshop for 60 BBC staff members. Goals of the training are:
    • To strengthen each Case Manager’s clinical knowledge of both interconception and pregnancy health and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, perinatal depression and hypertesion.
    • To strengthen each Case Manager’s skills in providing health education to women enrolled in the Healthy Births Initiative program.
  • The Network provides Baby Basics books and planners in three languages (English, Spanish and Chinese) for BBCs to distribute to their case managed clients.

Home Visitation

  • Launch of the Welcome Baby! universal home visitation pilot program.

Wellness curriculum

  • In partnership with Worksite Wellness L.A., teh Network develops a wellness curriculum for women.
    • Topics include: nutrition, exercise and mental health. 
    • The workshop includes and evaluation component.
    • at American Apparel. More than 200 employees participate.
  • The Network helps integrate health messaging into family planning clinics by developing bilingual user-friendly outreach materials such as the  “How Healthy Are You?” quiz pamphlet
  • The Network releases LA County’s first Perinatal Scorecard. The scorecard analyzes data trends related to 11 perinatal health indicators and offers recommendations for improvement in each area.
  • The Network Executive Director Carolina Reyes, MD, educates California Family Court judges about the importance of breastfeeding as a consideration in policies that impact the health of infants during a separation or divorce.
  • The Network participates in the in the Los Angeles Preconception Health Collaborative.  The work of the Network in the area of health and wellness is highlighted as a model at a Preconception Health Council of California meeting which was also attended by representatives from North Carolina and Florida.