Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition (BFHN)

BFHN provides programs and services ensuring the health of the Commonwealth’s mothers, infants, children and youth —  including children and youth with special health needs and their families.

Contact us


250 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108


(617) 624-6062
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health logo

Who we serve

We provide resources and support for families with children.

The Bureau includes six divisions and the Massachusetts Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention.

Commitment to racial equity

The impact of structural racism — the public policies, institutional practices, and social norms that together maintain racial hierarchies — is often overlooked or unacknowledged, yet it is pervasive and unmistakably harmful to everyone. The social marginalization and inequities that structural racism cultivates in housing, education, employment, the built and social environments, and health care are felt across generations, most acutely in communities of color. The Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition recognizes that systems of oppression need to be acknowledged and repaired by entities that helped create them. The Bureau is committed to improving the quality of life for all Commonwealth residents while eliminating the marginalization and inequities that threaten the lives of communities of color who are disproportionately affected by conditions leading to poor health outcomes.

Commitment to family engagement

The Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition (BFHN) believes that equitable and intentional partnerships with families and professionals lead to effective policies, programs, and practices.

The bureau’s commitment to family engagement and racial equity are core values that inform our work. We understand that the family experience is vital in developing and implementing successful programs. BFHN appreciates the richness that involving all stakeholders brings and believes that strong partnerships help to ensure effective systems of care. We are committed to engaging with mothers, fathers, children, youth, families of all compositions, and community members in a process of shared decision-making in which each voice carries equal weight.

We also recognize that this value has not always been accepted or promoted in society or in health care broadly. Historically, family voices — especially those with disabilities or from diverse cultures — were not included in health care decisions. Many believed that questioning health care providers was unacceptable because they knew best; health care was done to families. Advocacy, regulations, and mandates have advanced the standard of health care provision to be done with families. BFHN believes that all families — including Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), White, and those with disabilities — contribute expertise in health care decisions that affect themselves and others.

For these reasons and in support of our values, BFHN proudly joined with partners across the health care, education, and human services sectors in operationalizing our commitment to family engagement by developing and endorsing Strengthening Partnerships: A Framework for Prenatal through Young Adulthood Family Engagement in Massachusetts (PDF). The framework is a road map for practitioners and families to build and enhance effective, respectful, give-and-take systems of care.

Learn more about the Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition in its BFHN At A Glance (PDF) | (DOCX).

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Image credits:  January is Birth Defects Prevention Month (shutterstock.com);  teacher with young student (depositphotos.com);  mother breastfeeding (depositphotos.com);  mother playing with infant (depositphotos.com);  woman performing phone customer support (depositphotos.com)

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