Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns

Recent Updates:

07/31 - Strong Start 07/25 webinar materials posted.
07/24 - Updated Strong Start FAQs posted.
07/20 - Strong Start webinar on How to Generate a Baseline Data sample scheduled for Wednesday, July 25 at 3pm ET.


This initiative is a joint effort between the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Administration on Children and Families (ACF).


The Strong Start initiative supports reducing the risk of significant complications and long-term health problems for both expectant mothers and newborns.


Strong Start includes two strategies:

Fill out the optional Letter of Intent to Apply.


In an effort to connect applicants interested in partnering together and to address concerns from interested organizations that may not have enough pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP to apply, CMS has created a platform for potential applicants who have submitted an LOI and want to participate. If organizations would like to use the platform, they will need to grant consent through the LOI form (or by an email to for those who have already submitted an LOI) to have their information accessible in the platform and to gain access to the platform.

Many stakeholders have raised important issues since CMS announced the call for applications, and in order to address these issues CMS is revising the FOA and providing further clarifications regarding the initiative.

CMS will extend the application deadline to allow applicants the time they need to develop innovative models in response to the clarifications and revisions to the FOA. CMS would also like to note that Letters of Intent will not be required for Strong Start applications.

Therefore, those who did not submit Letters of Intent may also submit an application for Strong Start. We will provide further information about the revised timeline shortly.



This initiative builds on decades of work by organizations like ACOG, the March of Dimes, the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and Childbirth Connection, showing that elective deliveries before 39 weeks increase the risk of significant complications for both the mother and the baby, as well as long-term health problems. In addition, Strong Start’s goals and focus were identified with the help of experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), ACF and HRSA.

Babies born prematurely are a growing public health problem with significant consequences for families and an estimated cost to society of at least $26 billion each year. Each year, this is more than half a million infants in the United States, a number that has grown by 36 percent over the last 20 years.

Infants born preterm are at greater risk for mortality and many endure a lifetime of developmental and health problems. In addition to enormous medical needs, these children often require early intervention services, special education and have conditions that impact their productivity as adults.


Additional Information on the Strong Start Initiative