Funding will Expand the Community-based Doula Workforce to Help Address Maternal Mortality
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced the availability of $4.5 million for hiring, training, certifying, and compensating community-based doulas in areas with high rates of adverse maternal and infant health outcomes. This announcement builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity and address the nation’s Black maternal health crisis.
“Every person deserves to have the best support and care during pregnancy,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Today’s announcement represents another important investment by the Biden-Harris Administration to improve maternal health and equity in communities most in need. We will continue to fund programs and efforts that will lead to healthier pregnancies and help save lives.”
This funding, provided through HRSA’s Healthy Start Initiative, will increase the total number of Healthy Start doula programs from 25 to approximately 50 nationwide. HRSA’s Healthy Start Initiative works to improve health before, during, and after pregnancy and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in rates of infant deaths and adverse maternal health outcomes.
“Every maternal death is a tragedy. The fact that maternal deaths disproportionately happen to Black women is a national crisis,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “At HRSA, we are committed to taking action. Our investment in growing the community-based doula workforce is an essential part of our strategy to better protect the health and well-being of women and address the crisis of Black maternal mortality and morbidity in this country.”
Doulas provide for a mother’s social and physical needs before, during, and after pregnancy. They are positioned to advocate for Black women in ways that help reduce contributing factors of maternal mortality and morbidity in healthcare settings. Women who receive continuous support during childbirth from both health care professionals and doulas are more likely to have spontaneous vaginal birth, shorter labor duration, and are less likely to need a cesarean birth.
HRSA’s ongoing work to improve maternal health outcomes include: helping health care providers identify maternal mental health conditions; offering referrals and treatment early on; and supporting hospitals and community-based organizations and clinics to implement clear-cut, evidence-based practices that improve maternal health outcomes. HRSA also leads the HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality, (ACIMM), which aims to reduce infant mortality and improve the health status of pregnant people and infants.
Today’s announcement is part of the Administration’s continued response to Vice President Kamala Harris’ Call to Action to support safe pregnancies and childbirth, and reduce complications and mortality in the year following birth. In December, Vice President Harris hosted the first-ever federal Maternal Health Day of Action, where she announced a Call to Action to both the public and private sectors to help improve health outcomes for parents and infants in the United States.
In addition, the President’s FY2023 Budget calls for $470 million worth of investments to expand maternal health initiatives and improve access to care in rural communities, implement implicit bias training for health care providers, and create pregnancy medical home projects.
For more information on the President’s FY 2023 Budget, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/briefing-room/2022/03/28/fact-sheet-the-presidents-budget-for-fiscal-year-2023/.
To apply for this Doula Supplement, available to current Healthy Start awardees, visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=339107.