South Carolina has just been given a booster shot for its efforts to curb the state’s stubbornly high infant mortality rate.
The state was named one of six winners this week of a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and Harvard University, which will provide South Carolina with “technical assistance to develop pay-for-success contracts using social impact bonds,” according to a press release about the winners.
Social impact bonds are financed through private investors to tackle complex, expensive social problems.
“Investors are then repaid only if and when improved social outcomes are achieved. SIBs have the potential to open new funding sources for programs that deliver measurable social benefits and save tax payer dollars in the process,” according to the press release.
The state has made significant improvements in infant mortality rates since 1990. However, for blacks, infant mortality is far higher, almost 11 per 1,000 live births, double the rate for whites. As the Post and Courier’s recent series Forgotten South Carolina showed, it runs even higher in rural areas.
Five other states also won grant money to address other social problems, including homelessness and prison recidivism.
In the press release, Gov. Nikki Haley said public-private partnerships, like the social impact bonds, are the best way to innovate solutions to these tough issues.
“This is another reason for South Carolinians to celebrate as we move to the national forefront in creatively finding ways to improve maternal and child health,” Haley said in the statement.
The state still has a long way to go: The most recent report of “America’s Health Rankings,” placed South Carolina near the bottom nationally, at 46, in infant mortality.
Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.