Hello Baby

Parenting a newborn can be both a joy and a challenge. With an easy delivery, lots of support and sufficient resources, it can be a time of great happiness. But for many new parents, particularly those with limited resources and support, it can be stressful and scary. That’s why we’ve created Hello Baby, a voluntary program for any Allegheny County family with a newborn or young child.

What is Hello Baby?

  • Hello Baby’s tiered approach to prevention offers a variety of supports designed to meet families’ individual needs and interests.
  • It builds upon the robust set of services and supports that already exist for Allegheny County families and introduces a more deliberate and differentiated approach to outreach for new parents.
  • It enables DHS to reach more families who can benefit from support, better match families and babies to the right services, and ensure that the most vulnerable families and babies have access to the best supports we can offer.

Below you will find a link to Frequently Asked Questions as well as more information on Hello Baby’s development and intended practice. We have issued a methodology report(PDF, 1MB) and the reports of two ethical reviews (ethical review 1(PDF, 649KB) and ethical review 2(PDF, 148KB)) and our response(PDF, 236KB) to their recommendations, and when available, we will share the results of process and impact evaluations (an RFP(PDF, 441KB) was issued for these evaluations and evaluation partners have been chosen). We will also add links to news items as they become available.

Hello Baby Frequently-Asked Questions(PDF, 366KB)


DHS began to talk about the opportunity to prevent child abuse and neglect using a differentiated services approach, supported by predictive risk modeling, as far back as 2015, when plans for the Allegheny Family Screening Tool (AFST) were being developed. The AFST was designed to support child protective services intake workers as they make decisions regarding the disposition of calls they receive about child maltreatment (abuse or neglect). But could there be a way to reach families BEFORE they reach the breaking point? With Hello Baby, we are attempting to respond to that question.

DHS undertook an extensive process to develop the Hello Baby prevention strategy. In addition to drawing from decades of experience by DHS leadership, service workers and families, the process included a review of data and best practices identified in the literature, and dozens of individual and group meetings. Our community and family engagement process involved local service providers, families (including a special emphasis on fathers), social workers, clinical specialists and others, who informed us about what was working and what was missing from current engagement efforts and services. Case reviews with social workers and with local, national and international child development experts helped us to better understand the families that Hello Baby seeks to help, the challenges they face and the outcomes they experience.

This process led us to a number of insights. For one, we found that infants and babies were at the highest risk of serious abuse and neglect; from 2009 through 2016, almost 80% of Allegheny County children who suffered fatalities associated with child abuse and neglect were under the age of three. We also found that high-risk families may be more likely to engage in a universal intervention; that group-based maltreatment prevention efforts are more effective when participants are of mixed socioeconomic status; that outreach by home visitors is most effective when the home visitor is from the same background or culture as the parent(s); that community-level support and resources, as well as extrinsic rewards, were all effective ways to increase engagement and retention; and that there is no one-size-fits-all model of prevention. These findings informed the development of the Hello Baby model.

A New Prevention Model

The resulting prevention model, which is unaffiliated with child protective services, is designed to reach all Allegheny County families with a newborn and is available through the child’s third birthday. It has a differentiated approach, with flexible program delivery that is based upon the understanding that each family is unique and has different and varying levels of needs and barriers to support. Each family that chooses to participate will fall into one of three tiers depending upon the results of a predictive risk model (PRM) that uses integrated data to determine need. The model includes a universal entry point designed to increase awareness of available support services for all new parents and improve overall engagement rates. It incorporates community level support and utilizes home visiting techniques, hiring culturally competent staff with lived experiences to support families with moderate to high needs.

In addition, we commissioned two independent, comprehensive reviews conducted by Deborah Daro, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow at the University of Chicago and Michael Veale, Ph.D., Digital Charter Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute in London. View the results of these reviews, and DHS’s responses.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a modified version of Hello Baby, called Hello Baby Cares, was launched in the spring of 2020. The full version of Hello Baby was implemented a few months later, in the summer of 2020, and the Hello Baby website went live in the fall.

  • In the first year, universal services will be offered to all Allegheny County families with a baby born at any birthing hospital in the County.
  • Families with moderate needs will be contacted by outreach workers at one of Children’s Hospital’s Family Care Connection Family Centers (for those living in neighborhoods served by one of the centers).
  • Families with the most complex needs will be offered more intensive services by Healthy Start Pittsburgh, which was selected through a Request for Proposals(PDF, 526KB) as the community partner to provide this service. Healthy Start teams (family engagement specialist and social worker) will reach out to these families to better determine their needs and to connect them to the best resources the County has to offer. Healthy Start will pilot the program in the Mon Valley and the goal is to enroll 130 families by the end of the first year; eventually, the services will be available countywide.

Hello Baby Examined

Hello Baby and Pittsburgh Study want to help children thrive
New Pittsburgh Courier, December 14, 2020

6 ways Hello Baby website delivers answers to new parents in Pittsburgh
Kidsburgh, October 29, 2020

Hello Baby: Innovative child maltreatment prevention program launches in Allegheny Co., PA
Blog Child Welfare Monitor, October 21, 2020

University Task Force to Study Bias in Government Algorithms
Government Technology, January 23, 2020

Hello Baby will let all parents of Allegheny County newborns know what support is available
Next Pittsburgh, August 6, 2019

With 'Hello Baby' officials aim to reach all babies born in Allegheny County -- with an algorithm targeting those most at risk
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 5, 2019