SARASOTA- In a baby’s first 1,000 days their brain will reach 80% of its adult size, those first two years a critical to a child’s lifelong health. More than 30 community leaders and organizations are partnering to make sure all children have access to the best opportunities.

Kelly Romanoff, Projects Manager for the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation says help is out there for parents who need it, the trouble is finding it.

“And we just found that folks were falling through the cracks,” Romanoff said. “Half of the babies born in this community go home to families that are financially struggling.”

That can mean a lack of access to health care, early childhood education, or basic needs. Dr. Washington Hill says the increase in financial stress can affect the health of the mother and the baby.

“Whether it’s by increasing risk of pre-term labor,” Dr. Hill said. “Or increasing the fact the baby may die from other causes, stress impacts pregnancy.”

After pregnancy that stress can continue to impact a child’s development, more than 30 community organizations offer financial, medical, and parenting help.

“We do have the services in the community,” Dr. Hill said. “What we need is better coordination of those services, and a way for those in need to find those services and to use them.”

“It’s very much like a maze,” Kelly Romanoff said. “And so what we’re going to do is pilot a patient navigator program at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where there will be two dedicated staff, and their job is to identify the families that need help, and personally guide them to the services.”

Services range from basic healthcare, to substance abuse and treatment, to cognitive development, and basic needs likes shelter and diapers.

“We’re looking at the care that a mother needs during her prenatal care,” Romanoff said. “During her pre-natal care, delivery, and post-partum as well as that of her baby.”

Dr. Hill says even a little bit of help, can help reduce a parent’s stress.

“It won’t take it away,” Dr. Hill said. “But it will decrease it, so that now for example if a patient is on drugs, she will know where the resources are, and be able to have a roadmap to get to those resources.”

First 1,000 Days Sarasota County is pledging to raise 1 million dollars to fund the first three years of the pilot program.

For more information on how to donate or how your organization can join the initiative visit,