The African American Family Resource Information Center And Network, AFRICAN, was an intervention focused on reducing the significant racial disparity in infant mortality within Genesee County: At more than 22 deaths per
1,000 live births when AFRICAN was launched, African American infant mortality was the highest in the State of Michigan, and almost three times the mortality rate for non-African Americans. AFRICAN was created upon the Coalition’s receipt of a three-year funding award by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) “Closing the Gap” Initiative.
Local data show that African American women receive less pre-conceptual and prenatal care, and that they lack information and support for breastfeeding, Safe Sleep, and infant development once their babies are born. While adequate maternal and infant resources exist in the county, they have historically been underutilized and difficult to access in a coordinated manner given many life issues affecting high risk, expectant, and new mothers.
The AFRICAN project was not created to provide direct services—rather, it served the community by coordinating existing material and child health programs, helping families navigate the system, and identifying and addressing systemic gaps. Callers to the AFRICAN telephone hotline received information and referrals as well as follow-up to ensure their needs were met. The center also served as a source for healthcare providers seeking information on the community’s programs and resources.
AFRICAN operated successfully for two years, serving more than 1,600 individuals and families, and providing information and referrals to appropriate health care, educational, and support programs. The Coalition partnered with three community-based organizations—Faith Access to Community Economic Development (F.A.C.E.D.), Flint Family Road, and Flint Odyssey House Health Awareness Center—to support the AFRICAN Project.
During that time, the county’s African American infant mortality rate dropped from 22 deaths per 1,000 births to 15.2 per 1,000. In April 2007, the program received an Outstanding Achievement in Advocacy Award from the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health.
In September 2007, the project closed its doors due to the end of its funding.