COVID-19 Leads to Innovation


In January 2020, the Healthy Homes Coalition was notified that the voter-approved Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage would be supporting efforts to increase primary prevention of lead poisoning and other housing-related health outcomes for children in Kent County. This culminated years of work with numerous partners who provide home visiting services in an effort to check and test homes before children are hurt

Then COVID-19 hit.

How do you implement a home screening program in a time when social distancing is required?

The answer is you support parents.

That is what the Healthy Homes Coalition is doing. Thanks to generous support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and a gift from Mike and Sue Jandernoa, the Healthy Homes Coalition is now building a long-awaited tool to help parents identify if they live in high-risk housing. This same tool will also be used by trained and certified home visitors once they resume home visiting after the pandemic.

While supporting home visitors was planned for Phase I development, and the parent application for Phase II, responding to COVID-19 meant we needed to pivot and support parents first.

Along with this initiative, Healthy Homes is making numerous other changes to roll with the realities surrounding us.  Direct Services staff have begun implementing a "tele-health" approach using a secure FaceTime-like phone application to visit with parents. The whole organization is assessing and reconfiguring our technology and communications needs to support remote work, including better ways to communicate with parents and the community.

Too often in the past the community has relied upon poor health outcomes for children to identify homes for intervention. By then it is too late. The new home screening tool, scheduled for launch at the end of this summer, will help us connect parents with the resources they need before children are lead poisoned, miss school due to asthma flair ups, or get injured. And our investments in new technology will help us meet the needs of those families identified as at-risk. 


The home screening program is being made possible because of the generosity of Kent 
County taxpayers and the voter-approved Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage.