2 women with a stroller in front of the US Capitol

Statement: Promote Perinatal Health, Support Community Health Workers


March 23, 2020

For Immediate Release

For more information, contact:

Gordon Mayer, 312-307-0133 or Diana Pando, 312-498-4067

Promote Perinatal Health, Support Community Health Workers

A message of support for community health workers and a call for the nation to invest in their support during the COVID-19 pandemic is the policy position of HealthConnect One, the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.

“We have a message from community health workers who counsel and advocate for mothers, babies and the families and villages that support them in the nation’s communities of color: Our safety and security and the welfare of our nation demand resources for our communities,” said Jere McKinley, Interim Executive Director.

“We also have a message for community health workers, doulas, lactation experts and other peer counselors: We are here for you,” McKinley said. Noting that community health workers are considered as critical infrastructure workers, she named the following policy positions:

Invest in families with young children: HealthConnect One stands with allies, including ZERO TO THREE, and other organizations in supporting investments in policies that work to protect vulnerable populations. Zero to Three has identified $53.8 billion in resources that must be targeted toward families with young children to protect them at this time. See list here

Protect doula care: Doulas are not “visitors.” With nearly 4 million babies born each year, and at a time when the healthcare system will be stretched like never before, mothers need to know they will be able to rely on the doulas they’ve asked to help at their births. This may include accommodations such as videoconferencing into a hospital if needed, but medical professionals must recognize the essential role support workers play. Doulas are recognized by Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, AWHONN, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG as essential personnel and part of the maternity care team. See AWHONN’s Position on Doulas with Patients During COVID-19

Preserve support for breastfeeding and first foods: Although it is too soon to be certain, evidence so far suggests mothers with COVID-19 may not transmit the virus via breast milk. Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses.  The World Health Organization states that women with COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so as long as they practice respiratory hygiene during feeding, wearing a mask where available, wash hands before and after touching the baby and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces they have touched With its partner agency US Breastfeeding Committee and ACOG, HealthConnect One believes breastfeeding saves lives. USBC, infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies, including COVID-19; ACOG Novel Coronavirus 2019.

HealthConnect One also stands with the National WIC Association in supporting proposes of $500 million in funding for WIC to ensure that the program can serve additional participants as the nation prepares for an economic downturn. This keeps breastfeeding peer counselors available to continue to provide support to most vulnerable families during this time.  Press Release: National WIC Association Applauds Early Steps by Congress to Address COVID-19 Crisis

Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture continues to seek to roll back food stamps. Although a court has stopped the move, the administration can step back in order to provide support for working people by dropping this demand.

Put people first: Economic stimulus should be targeted toward those who need support most. The coronavirus economy relies on working people – cashiers and nurse assistants, garbage truck drivers and package delivery people. But proposed legislation provides more support for businesses and corporations than for laid-off workers such as those whose unemployment insurance may only cover a small percentage of their lost income, gig workers, and families struggling to pay for housing or to keep food on the table. With Center for American Progress, HealthConnect One believes the Senate Stimulus Proposal in Response to Coronavirus Fails to Meet the Moment.

Ensure immigrants can get care: HealthConnect One’s position is that immigrants are our families, our neighbors, and the members of our community who are on the frontline – working to help our country through the pandemic. Congress must ensure that we protect everyone, regardless of immigration status, as America’s Voice outlines. How Immigrant Workers Are Getting Us Through The Pandemic

More information and a running list of resources and support documents are available online at healthconnectone.org/covid-19.

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About HealthConnect One: the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting, HealthConnect One’s vision is to see every baby, mother, and family thrive in a healthy community. We work to achieve this vision through an equity focused approach supporting the first 1000 days for birthing families.

Since 1986, across more than 50 communities in 20 states, HealthConnect One has worked with maternal and child health organizations, social services providers, hospitals, birth workers, grassroots organizers and FQHCs to design peer-to- peer support programs which increase breastfeeding rates, strengthen parent-child bonding, expand support for mothers and families, reduce C-section rates and achieve better birth outcomes while generating local jobs and leveraging resources.