The New Jersey Department of Health today announced the award of a grant to HealthConnect One to develop a diverse community doula workforce to support women during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.
HealthConnect One will establish a Doula Learning Collaborative to increase the number of trained community doulas — professionals who provide culturally appropriate, social and emotional support to pregnant women throughout the prenatal period, labor and delivery, as well as the postpartum period. The Doula Learning Collaborative will also support doulas in engaging with multiple health systems and process Medicaid reimbursement claims for their services.
“Community doulas have the inherent local knowledge and understanding that enables them to provide culturally responsive care to our mothers during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Doula care can lead to lower rates of maternal and infant health complications, fewer pre-term births and low-birthweight infants, higher rates of breastfeeding, and so much more. Doulas amplify mothers voices and listen to their needs, ultimately improving birth outcomes for mothers and babies of color.”
The Doula Learning Collaborative is part of First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan released in January 2021. The goal of the plan is to reduce New Jersey’s maternal mortality by 50 percent over five years and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes. It is a culmination of more than a year of in-person and virtual meetings with more than 100 critical stakeholders including national public health experts, New Jersey state departments and agencies, health systems, physicians, doulas, community organizations, and mothers and families.
“Research demonstrates that support from a doula is associated with lower caesarian section rates, fewer obstetric interventions, fewer complications, and the improved health of mothers and babies after delivery,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
HealthConnect One, based in Chicago, IL., is a national leader in advancing birth equity and has a 35-year history of collaborating with communities to support under-resourced Black, Brown and Indigenous areas and birthing families to achieve positive health outcomes.
Currently, there are approximately 79 doulas that were trained and certified through Department of Health pilot programs and another 150 to 200 private practice doulas working independently in the state.
The Department of Health, Division of Family Health Services Reproductive and Perinatal Health Services awarded the grant after a competitive request for proposals was issued in March. The review committee agreed the firm could successfully create a diverse community doula workforce by implementing and recruiting a diverse Advisory Board; provide training, clinical supervision, technical support, leadership development and advocacy for doulas, and develop a plan for the Doula Learning Collaborative.
The organization’s contract for $450,000 is for one year with the possibility of continuation of funding for two additional years based on performance in prior years and availability of funds.
For more information on Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, please visit https://nj.gov/governor/admin/fl/nurturenj.shtml
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