Brooklyn Proyecto HEAL Project Promotes Culturally Friendly Child Health Care and Teen Health Education

Program to Address Sociocultural Barriers to Health Care in Hispanic Communities

The Puerto Rican Family Institute (PRFI) implemented Proyecto HEAL through its Bushwick Child Placement Prevention Program, which serves more than 300 children in Brooklyn. PRFI's Proyecto HEAL mission was "to provide all children of Bushwick with complete physical, screening, and health care interventions."

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national Program to Address Sociocultural Barriers to Health Care in Hispanic Communities.

Initially, in 1992, PRFI enrolled 15 youths in a program addressing "health related issues within a culturally friendly format," and seven parents in a program designed to empower parents as health care consumers. Upon request of families in the community, it then channeled Proyecto HEAL funds into direct preventive pediatric health care during program years two and three (1994–1995), making it unique among project sites.

In years four and five, after the national program office disallowed direct service provision, PRFI began Proyecto Juventud, a program designed to educate teens to become better health care consumers by connecting youth with elected officials.

Key Results:

  • The pediatric health care program in years two and three served over 200 children from birth to 15 in collaboration with the local Wycoff Heights Medical Center.
  • A total of 97 youths participated in Proyecto Juventud.
  • Through Proyecto HEAL, PRFI developed numerous partnerships with other coalitions and agencies. Along with eight other community-based organizations, it sponsored the first-ever health fair in the Bushwick community.
  • PRFI negotiated with a local health center to accept uninsured or underinsured families not previously served by the center.

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