HHS Announces $15 Million Award to Help Flint Families Affected by Lead Exposure

Flint, MI – Mayor Weaver and the City’s Chief Public Health Advisor, Dr. Pamela Pugh, issued the following joint statement Friday after learning the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it has awarded $15 million to help families in Flint affected by lead exposure:

“This is great news,” said Mayor Weaver. “We know that children and families in Flint exposed to lead as a result of the water crisis need ongoing supports and services. This funding will help to provide the assistance needed to address the issues and conditions some are dealing with. We thank the Department of Health and Human Services for acknowledging these needs and providing the dollars necessary to address them.”

“This funding will go to the Genesee County Health Department to be used to provide health and social services for women and children,” added Dr. Pugh.  “I look forward to working with the health department and other partners to ensure systems are in place that promote maternal health, improve birth outcomes, and prevent child developmental delays.”

Official Press Release on the Announcement:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced approximately $15 million in funding for the Genesee County Healthy Start Program to provide health and social services for women, infants, and their families who have had, or are at risk for, lead exposure in Flint, Michigan and the surrounding community. The Genesee County Health Department oversees the county’s Healthy Start Program.

The funding, authorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act and the Public Health Service Act, will help residents who are experiencing health issues linked to exposure to the local water supply. Lead exposure can cause miscarriage, developmental delays in infants, and other medical issues. Because lead can stay in the bones for decades, women and infants may continue to be exposed through pregnancy and breastfeeding even after the source is removed.

“The Trump Administration is taking important steps to support the residents of Flint, Michigan as the need for vital resources remains critical to the health of their community,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “We understand the urgency of the situation, and this funding will help connect affected and at-risk Flint residents to comprehensive health and social services proven to mitigate the effects of lead exposure.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau supports the Genesee County Healthy Start Program to strengthen families, improve local health care quality, and increase community participation in health care decisions. The Genesee County Healthy Start Program will use this new grant in partnership with other community organizations to expand access to services available to minimize the health effects of lead exposure among pregnant women, infants and young children in Flint and the surrounding Genesee County area.

“Ongoing screening, follow-up, and attention to children’s development all support recovery from Flint’s enduring public health crisis as a result of lead exposure,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, Ph.D. M.S.  “The funding we’re announcing today represents one of many ways we are working to assist families in this community.”

The Genesee County Healthy Start Program will identify children who were exposed to lead from the contaminated water to assess their needs; facilitate access to recommended services; and minimize developmental delays. They will also coordinate access to appropriate medical, behavioral, and developmental screening, services, and supports for impacted women, children, and their families.

For more information about HRSA’s Healthy Start Program, visit: https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/healthy-start