HealthPartners wants to help our community live their healthiest lives. A person’s health is mostly determined by what happens in their family and neighborhood. This, combined with what happens in school, is especially true for kids. That’s why much of our work involves partnering with cities, schools and other nonprofits.

Many partnerships have grown out of advocacy and volunteer work done by our leaders, like Donna Zimmerman. Donna is our Senior Vice President of Government and Community Relations. Her work with the City of Minneapolis is a prime example.

On Jan. 9, Donna was named a Co-Chair of the Cradle to K Cabinet. The Cabinet is a team of multi-sector experts, leaders and parents. It is focused on children ages zero to three in Minneapolis. The Cabinet’s main goal is giving kids equal access to a healthy start. That begins with removing gaps tied to race, neighborhood, income and family structure.

“We have found that the challenges facing children in our City are most often focused in the areas of housing, health care and education,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said. “What we do for our kids early on matters to the economic and healthy future of our residents and the entire City of Minneapolis. In order to make sure that every bit of talent and genius our community has to offer is nurtured, we must start at the very beginning of life,” she added.

Cradle to K Cabinet and HealthPartners’ Children’s Health Initiative

HealthPartners actively promotes early childhood health and development in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. This work is known as our Children’s Health Initiative.

“The Cradle to K Cabinet’s work in Minneapolis aligns closely to our own Children’s Health Initiative,” Donna said. “I look forward to working with the Mayor and other community leaders and groups to help children have a healthy start in life.”

Three examples of where our work overlaps:

  1. HealthPartners stresses the importance of “Read, Talk, Sing” to parents and caregivers. We’re the largest clinic system to fully participate in Reach Out and Read. And in 2017, the Cradle to K Cabinet is promoting Reach Out and Read to other clinics in the City of Minneapolis. This national program partners with doctors to give children’s books to families. Parents and caregivers get these books at well-child visits. A child needs regular, quality interaction in the first years of life in order for his or her brain to grow. And this program gives doctors the chance to explain that.
  2. In November 2016, HealthPartners co-hosted “Bright Futures Begin at Birth.” The Greater Twin Cities United Way was our partner on this event. Five hundred people attended. They included many community stakeholders and Cradle to K Cabinet members. Attendees shared ideas on how to ensure a healthy start for all children. And they talked about how to support early childhood brain development in their own work.
  3. HealthPartners is doing innovative work to boost routine well-child visits. Our text message reminders have proved to be an effective way to encourage parents to schedule them. The Cradle to K Cabinet has a goal of increasing early childhood screenings that track growth and development. And the first step is getting more kids ages 0 to 5 into clinics for regular check-ups.