First Steps Program Celebrates Decade of Serving Families

    March 8th, 2023

    United Way, Mankato Clinic Foundation, Blue Earth County continue partnership to support healthy pregnancies and healthy babies

    MANKATO—The First Steps prenatal early intervention program has completed its 10th year of serving children and families in our region.

    Led by a partnership between Blue Earth County, Greater Mankato Area United Way and Mankato Clinic Foundation, the program has impacted more than 5,000 people in the region since its inception in 2012. In that time, the program has made more than 1,600 referrals and partnered with 20 different counties and over 50 different community organizations.

    First Steps is a community collaborative that connects new and expecting parents to free or low-cost services and resources. The First Steps coordinator has an office in the Mankato Clinic Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, where she meets with new and expecting parents to help them navigate the system to access medical, county and community resources. While the majority of referrals come from Mankato Clinic, patients are also referred by other providers and community organizations.

    “This program utilizes the partnership between health care providers and patients to reach families who need it most and help give children a healthy start,” said Elizabeth Harstad, Greater Mankato Area United Way’s community impact director.

    First Steps works with parents and families to address social determinants of health, including single parents, mental health, poverty, hunger, domestic violence, unemployment, drug or alcohol abuse, teen parents, cultural or language barriers, unstable housing, and more.

    “We see expecting mothers who are in need of community support. With First Steps located on site, we can help connect patients to services the same day. This program makes a big difference in the health and well-being of children and families,” said Dr. Scott Barnacle, OB-GYN, Mankato Clinic.

    The program has proven successful among providers and patient educators. In a recent survey, 100 percent of respondents said they feel First Steps has a high level of impact on their patients.