- Office of the Attorney General
- Office of the Attorney General
Media Contact for AG Campbell Distributes $1.5 Million For Maternal Health Equity Grant
BOSTON — Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell has awarded $1.5 million to 11 organizations as part of the AG Office’s Maternal Health Equity Grant. The Grant, established under AG Campbell, aims to reduce maternal health disparities by increasing access to culturally competent maternal health support services. AG Campbell made the announcement earlier today at Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury, where she hosted a roundtable discussion with the grant recipients about maternal health equity.
The Maternal Health Equity Grant expands access to culturally competent group models of prenatal care, perinatal behavioral health support and breastfeeding support. The Grant also addresses the need for more culturally competent healthcare professionals by increasing access to the doula workforce. The Grant is funded through settlements reached by the AG’s Office.
“We each have a role to play in addressing the maternal health crisis in Massachusetts where, for example, Black birthing people experience the highest rates of labor and delivery complications compared to other races and ethnicities. I’m proud that my office is leveraging its grant making tool to do exactly that,” said AG Campbell. “Our Maternal Health Equity Grants will provide much-needed funds to non-profit organizations across the state that have demonstrated their ability to tackle this ongoing crisis. Together, we are making clear that the safety and wellbeing of all those who give birth and parent matters and contributes to the health and success of all of us.”
According to a recent report from the Department of Public Health, severe maternal morbidity, which involves unexpected complications of labor and delivery that result in significant consequences to a birthing person’s health, nearly doubled in Massachusetts from 2011 to 2020 – with Black, non-Hispanic birthing people consistently experiencing the highest rates of complication. “To improve peripartum health outcomes,” the report concludes, “state policy efforts must continue to target structural racism and ableism, as well as other socioeconomic and community drivers of adverse maternal outcomes, including access to and quality of primary and prenatal care.”
Following a robust review process, the following organizations were selected by the AG’s Office to receive funding:
Berkshire Medical Center (Berkshire County)
Funding will support Berkshire Cradle, a collaborative project between Berkshire Medical Center, Berkshire Nursing Families and Springfield Family Doulas, to expand culturally competent maternal health support services for families in Berkshire County, including lactation support through the perinatal period, connecting at-risk pregnant and postpartum people with perinatal mental health peer support, connecting birthing people of color to culturally competent support groups, providing perinatal professionals with education on birth inequities, and screening for intimate partner violence among birthing people with substance use disorder.
Caring Health Center (Hampden County)
Funding will be used by Caring Health Center (CHC), a woman- and BIPOC-led organization, to expand sexual and reproductive health services including prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care. Additional programming will support holistic and culturally-tailored maternal and child health, including integration with CHC’s Family Planning; Early Childhood Development; and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs. CHC serves as a primary source of care and support for low-income, underserved, and underinsured individuals including immigrant, refugee, non-English speaking, and homeless populations with complex medical and social needs.
Cambridge Health Alliance Foundation (Middlesex and Suffolk Counties)
Cambridge Health Alliance Foundation (CHA) will use grant funds to rebuild and revitalize its doula program, the state’s first hospital doula program established in 1996. With the support of the grant, CHA will provide updated training for doulas, including how to lead new culturally and linguistically responsive childbirth and postpartum classes. CHA will focus on expanding its team of doulas, recruiting individuals from the communities it serves, in order to best support its diverse patient population and address birthing person health inequities. CHA’s program will serve as a support system and pathway to certification for its multicultural and multilingual doulas while developing a strong doula community.
Cape Cod Children’s Place (Barnstable, Duke, and Nantucket Counties)
Funding will be used to address the significant deficit of trained professionals in perinatal mental health and support on Cape Cod and the Islands. Cape Cod Children’s Place will use the grant money to provide trainings to mental health clinicians seeking to receive a certificate in perinatal mood disorders, including postpartum depression – with a focus on engaging Spanish and Portuguese speaking clinicians. Through this expansion of the workforce of culturally competent perinatal mental health clinicians, Cape Cod Children’s Place will be able to add three new support groups for new parents, including multilingual groups and groups for LGBTQIA+ families.
Community Servings, Inc. (Statewide)
Community Servings, Inc. works closely with medical providers to develop appropriate, individualized nutritional meal plans for weekly homemade and home-delivered medically tailored meals to clients, including high-risk maternal health clients. Focus groups ensure that meal options are culturally responsive. Grant funding will be used to build upon existing programming to serve pregnant people experiencing nutrition insecurity and high-risk factors, including gestational diabetes, mellitus, hyperemesis, and weight management. The program will also provide pre- and post-natal nutrition education and counseling.
Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (Essex County)
Funding will be used to expand the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center’s Centering Pregnancy Program, a group medical visit program for maternal health patients to receive support and education about childbirth which also includes individual medical care, to be conducted in both English and Spanish. GLFHC serves a population that is largely low-income, and the majority of patients are Latinx and Spanish-speaking.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (Statewide)
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast provides lifesaving, pasteurized donor milk to premature babies in hospital NICUs. Donor milk is also effective as a short-term supplementation to achieve breastfeeding goals. For families who can and desire to breastfeed, the maternal health benefits are significant. Funding will be used to promote equitable access to donor milk to support lactation. The initiative will subsidize safe and screened donor milk for diverse low-income communities and expand outreach to additional hospitals and community health centers. Community education will also raise awareness about the importance and benefits of donor milk, encouraging milk donation and thus improving infant and maternal health outcomes.
Pernet Family Health Service, Inc. (Worcester County)
Pernet Family Health Service provides home-based health and social services, including Maternal Child Health home visits. All families living in Worcester are eligible for Universal Newborn Home Visits, regardless of socioeconomic status or risk factors, and families are matched with additional services during those visits as needed. Funding will be used to augment lactation support services, train more multilingual staff to conduct postpartum depression screenings for birthing parents and their partners, and support multilingual Certified Lactation Counselors to become International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants. These expanded services and workforce development investments will address the need for greater coordination of services and more equitable access to services for Black and Latino parents, thereby improving maternal health equity and health outcomes for at-risk babies.
Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital (Bristol and Plymouth Counties)
Signature Healthcare (SHC) provides medical services for patients in Brockton and 21 surrounding towns, which include Portuguese, Cape Verdean, Latino, and Haitian populations. SHC’s Healthy Beginnings program identifies people in need of early prenatal care and connects them to obstetricians and midwives. While SHC has implemented its program since 2012, the pandemic and an electrical fire at the Brockton Hospital disrupted the program. Funding will be used to hire new multilingual staff to reinvigorate Healthy Beginnings in the community and will include an extension of services through the post-partum period.
Tufts University (Statewide)
In anticipation of MassHealth’s plan to cover doula services by the end of 2023, Tufts University’s Center for Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice will use grant funding to create an interactive toolkit to support doulas and enrolled MassHealth members achieve equitable doula care. This toolkit will be designed with a Black maternal health community engagement framework to ensure Black and Brown birthing individuals and doulas have increased access to care and pay, respectively. This effort will ensure there is an adequate pool of doulas available and enrolled in MassHealth, so that clients will have both access to and a choice in providers. The project will be informed by a Community Advisory Board comprised of birthing people of color and will use a Black maternal health community engagement framework for project design.
Whittier Street Health Center (Suffolk County)
Funding will be used to establish a Centering Parenting program at Whittier Street Health Center, which includes prenatal and postpartum care, breastfeeding support, parenting education, and mental health services. Whittier serves vulnerable populations, including low-income communities, immigrants, and refugees, with nearly half of Whittier’s patients receiving service in a language other than English. The program will hire culturally competent, bilingual staff and conduct ongoing community outreach and education initiatives to ensure that communities facing disparities in maternal health outcomes have access to needed care.