FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2012
RoiAnn Phillips, 312-878-7017 (day); 708-466-2650 (eve); firstname.lastname@example.org
Investing $3M in Community Health Workers
Ensuring Healthy Moms, Babies and Families
HealthConnect One is launching a national project which expands the community health worker (CHW) workforce to provide support for thousands of vulnerable families during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.
The three-year project titled: “Tapping Powerful Resources: Strengthening the CHW Workforce in Maternal and Infant Health” will develop community-based doula and breastfeeding peer counselor programs at four sites in Michigan and New Mexico and build the CHW field nationally through workshops, regional and national conferences, data collection, and program evaluation.
The project is funded by a $3,077,084 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity for HealthConnect One, an investment in our model that increases access to health care and supports healthy new families,” said Rachel Abramson, Executive Director of HealthConnect One. “This is a complex moment for those of us who work to improve the health of the public. Our communities are more diverse, more poor (nearly half of the babies born in the US are on Medicaid) and are rapidly becoming consumed by chronic disease and obesity.”
HealthConnect One’s national network of CHWs committed to birthing families includes 400 individuals from over 99 communities, both urban and rural, depressed economically and with widespread health disparities. Tapping Powerful Resources will dramatically increase the size of this network and create job opportunities for residents of four communities.
“Every agency we partner with is different, but for over twenty-five years, we have developed a model that contains five essential components – no matter where we are and no matter who we’re working with,” explained Jeretha McKinley, HC One’s National Program Director. “And it works. Our programs show higher breastfeeding rates, fewer c-section deliveries, higher birth weight, improved prenatal care, and the list goes on.”
Programs that follow HC One’s model: (1) Employ trusted members of the community, (2) Extend support from early pregnancy through the first months postpartum , (3) Collaborate with community stakeholders and use a diverse team approach, (4) Facilitate experiential learning through popular education, and (5) Value the CHW’s work with salary, supervision and support.
Abramson summed it up. “To ‘tap powerful resources’ is to invest in CHWs. This is at the core of HC One’s beliefs – to improve health status and equity, we need to focus on a prevention-oriented approach that respects and leverages assets within a wide range of populations,” Abramson said. “CHWs are powerful resources for health in our nation’s most at-risk communities.”
HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing respectful, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting. Founded in 1986, HealthConnect One’s vision is to see every baby, mother, and family thrive in a healthy community. For more information, please visit www.healthconnectone.org
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa. For further information on the foundation, please visit www.wkkf.org