Better beginnings

November 14, 1990

It is a truism that sooner is better than later in matters of child care. Whether you're talking special classes for 4-year-olds or nutrition programs for new mothers and infants, experts agree it's far easier to head off a problem before it develops than try to RTC reverse its consequences down the line.

That's particularly true in the area of prenatal care for expectant mothers. As reported in The Evening Sun on Monday, the John Hopkins Health Plan, in fact, is so convinced of the virtues of prevention that it is adopting a policy of paying at-risk pregnant women to come in for regular checkups and attend health education classes.

Under a program called "Better Beginnings," women covered under the state's medical assistance plan can receive a $10 voucher for each scheduled appointment they keep and additional vouchers for attendance at health-education classes or completion of a drug- or alcohol-abuse detoxification program. Hopkins officials say that if the incentive succeeds in helping just one of the 650 women in the program avoid predictable problems it will recoup the project's entire $35,000 cost.

How much better it would be if only such a sensible approach could become the norm, rather than the exception.

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