Two black female friends with stroller, walking and chatting.

Take Action for Birthing Families

Congress will soon decide on a social infrastructure legislative package that could be transformative for birthing families, including critical Momnibus investments and establishing the first national paid family & medical leave insurance program!

Black Maternal Health

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 builds on existing maternal health legislation, like policies to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, with 12 bills to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis. 

Last month, crucial investments in Black maternal health from the Momnibus were included in the Build Back Better Act. HealthConnect One is thrilled to see maternal health equity prioritized in this package, however there is still work to do until these provisions, in their entirety, are passed.

As outlined in a report from the Century Foundation, these four investments from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, out of many, will improve Black Maternal health should lawmakers pass the Build Back Better Act.

  • Build Back Better could save mothers’ lives by providing funding for postpartum Medicaid to a total of 1,170,000 uninsured new mothers over ten years
  • 92,000 nurses and perinatal nursing students would receive funding for loans, scholarships, and programmatic support over ten years.
  • 30,000 doulas would receive funding for loans, scholarships, and programmatic support over ten years.
  • 46,000 maternal mental health and substance abuse professionals would receive loans, scholarships, and programmatic support, over ten years.

It is imperative that congress prioritizes these maternal health investments that mothers, babies, and birthing families desperately need. 

Tweet at your legislators and tell them the importance of these investment! – Click Here

  • It’s time for congress to pass ALL #Momnibus provisions in the #BuildBackBetter act. These investments will address system-level failures by providing policy solutions that will allow Black birthing people and their babies to thrive.
  • Community-based organizations like @HealthConnctOne and its partners are at the frontlines of the maternal health crisis by ensuring birthing families have the culturally-reflective support they need to have a positive birth experience. (1/2)
    The #Momnibus enables these organizations to directly serve the multifaceted needs of pregnant and postpartum people in their community. (2/2) 
  • Racial justice requires investments in maternal health. To rectify centuries of disenfranchisement, we need to continue demanding justice for moms and ensure that ALL of the #Momnibus provisions are prioritized in the Build Back Better legislative package. 
  • The evidence is clear — doula care is associated with positive outcomes for birthing families. Funding from the #BuildBackBetter act would provide increased access to doula services for Black families, for whom doula care is often out of reach.
  • The #Momnibus provisions in the #BuildBackBetter package will ensure that Black birthing people can experience joyful pregnancy and birth.
  • Black birthing people need the Biden adminsitration and leaders in congress to go bold and pass the #BuildBackBetter Act with ALL investments from the #Momnibus and the permanent extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months.

Follow @HealthConnectOne on Twitter and be sure to tag us in your posts!

We won’t stop working until all provisions are passed. It’s time to build on this momentum and continue working to eliminate maternal health disparities by passing the Build Back Better Act with all maternal health provisions included.

Paid Family Leave

In one of the most industrialized nations in the world, only 15 percent of all working people in the have access to paid leave through their employers. The Build Back Better Act social infrastructure package could change that. 

Sick family members, a new baby or child placement, an aging parent, are planned and sometimes sudden occurrences for everyday people across America. Working families deserve to know they do not have to sacrifice financial income or job security.  The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee paid leave of any kind. It’s time for our legislators to create a safety net that will allow working people to remain active parts of their families and the economy at the same time. 

Our leaders are negotiating the details and they need to hear your voice about what families need.

The paid leave plan in the Build Back Better package will:

  • Ensure the benefit is available to all of America’s families;
  • Provide paid time off (ideally 12 weeks);
  • Provide robust wage replacement; and
  • Cover the whole range of babies’ and families’ needs for time off.

Become an advocate and keep the pressure on our leaders to make sure the new paid leave program provision in the Build Back Better Act would reach all babies and families! call on Congress to finally pass paid leave for all working families. 

Take Action Today – Click Here

Contact Congress via a phone call or email and ask them to support the bill and it’s full recommendations.
(via Think Babies)

Use the script below:

  • Hello, my name is (xxx) and I am your constituent living in (state your city/town).
  • I’m calling today to urge your support the Build Back Better Act which will establishes a paid family and medical leave program that will meet the needs of working families across America
  • This paid family and medical leave program will give families the opportunity to stay connected with their family and remain in the work economy. Paid leave gives families the time they need to bond with and care for their infants and care for loved ones without sacrificing their financial security. 
  • This issue is of particular importance to me because (briefly describe why this is important to you).
  • Thank you for your time and for your leadership in supporting working families across America. 

It’s important that our elected officials hear from you about the life-saving relief that a comprehensive paid leave program can have on maternal and child health outcomes and overall well being of families.  

Our country cannot afford to wait to address the challenges facing Black and Brown birthing people, and failing to invest in these issues risks not only incurring painful economic and social costs, but lives across America.

"Relcaiming latinx birth traditions"

Reclaiming Latinx Birth Traditions

–> En Español <–

Hi! I’m Cassie, a Mexican mom and doula from Chicago! I have one adventurous toddler I keep close to me. We are inseparable, and our bond came right away. Here’s a little bit about our journey together…

I am as determined as my toddler. When I decided I wanted to have an unmedicated birth, my family and friends seemed shocked.

After doing a lot of reading and research, I thought, “My grandmother had 6 children. I can handle this one single birth.” I considered the women who came before me and their strength. I thought of other mothers who are deemed “crazy loca” for wanting an unmedicated labor. So I decided to surround myself with positive birth stories.

First, I switched to Midwifery care. Meanwhile, morning sickness was hitting me hard for a long period of time. I decided to try natural remedies, such as tea and vitamins. By month 6, I was starting to feel more like myself. BUT it was my 6th month of pregnancy—I had a lot of catching up to do on my path to a “natural” birth.

I took a childbirth education class, found a birth doula, and began reading up on comfort techniques. I was drawn to the notion of moving throughout labor and watched videos of moms dancing to salsa in the early stages. Though my salsa moves never made an appearance at the hospital, I found comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone in my dreams of a natural birth plan.

The time I spent preparing for birth was time I took for myself. It was time I needed to reclaim my confidence, review resources, and examine the evidence based information I had available to me. This time is absolutely essential to us as Latinx birthing families.

New moms need an unconditionally supportive community to bolster the strengths and information they already carry. I’ve seen the power of a group of women who tend to a mother’s fears, worries, and overall questions. It can instill confidence that carries the mother through the difficult moments that come with motherhood. We can and should preserve these cultural traditions by being physically and emotionally present for our hermanas. Our support prenatally, during labor, and during the “cuarentena,” gives power to the mother’s voice.

Looking back, as a mother and a birth doula, I am proud. I threw myself deeply into the unknown and searched for the information I needed. Reclaiming traditions—natural remedies, prenatal and labor support from other women, and even using a rebozo to help lift my belly at the end of pregnancy—reconnected me to what I wanted but couldn’t describe: a strong connection with my roots that had been there all along.

* * * * *

Where to find me:
www.loveyourdoula.org  /  Facebook  /  Instagram

Affiliations:
Healthy Families at Advocate Illinois Masonic (tel: 773.296.5943)
Chicago Latina Moms
Chicago Volunteer Doulas

* * * * *

ARTWORK by Cameron Light

You can follow Cameron on Instagram as @stellar.bear or on Facebook as Stellarbear. To purchase any current work, commission a new piece, or to find out more about Cameron’s new set of affirmation cards (which this picture is a part of), please feel free to contact Cameron through social media or by email at enlightenedcam@gmail.com.

* * * * *
Editor’s Note: Thank you, Cassie, for sharing your perspective as part of the Birth Equity Leadership Academy‘s 2018 Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month Series, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth / Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

We’re Hiring for two Coordinator Positions

Our team is growing and we are hiring for two new positions! We are seeking individuals with passion/and or experience working on birth/reproductive justice or issues related to racial justice or other complex issues in a social justice context.

Business Development Coordinator

Position: Trainer/Business Development Coordinator
Reports To: Director of Business Development and Expansion
Category: Entry Level
Salary Range: $43,000 – $50,000

About the Role:  The HealthConnect One, (HC One) Trainer/Business Development Coordinator will work with the HC One program staff and leadership to coordinate resources, develop training materials, facilitate the breastfeeding peer counselor and community-based doula training. Assist in planning, outreach, and implementation to ensure set program direction that meets HC One’s vision.

Learning Management System Coordinator

Position: Trainer/Learning Management System Coordinator
Reports To: Director of Training and Curriculum
Category: Entry Level
Salary Range: $43,000 – $50,000

About the Role:  The HealthConnect One, (HC One) Trainer/LMS Coordinator will work with the HC One program staff and leadership to coordinate resources, develop training materials, facilitate the breastfeeding peer counselor and community-based doula training. Assist in planning, outreach, and implementation to ensure set program direction that meets HC One’s vision.

Interested in one of our job openings and joining the HC One team? Submit all of the required documents stated in the job description to jobs@healthconnectone.org listed. Please include the position title in the subject line. Applications are accepted until the stated application deadline, or until the position has been filled.

Check out our job openings page for more details!

HC One Supports Postpartum Medicaid Extension in House COVID Bill

Chicago – Last night the House Energy and Commerce Committee released the legislative text for its COVID-19 relief legislation, which includes a provision to support state efforts to extend Medicaid coverage in the postpartum period. 

Dr. Twylla Dillon, HealthConnect One Executive Director, released the following statement in support of this critical provision to the Energy and Commerce Committee Covid-19 Relief Legislation:

“In this critical pandemic moment, long-standing health inequities in birth experiences in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities put women, birthing people, and babies center stage. These inequities do not only present a public health issue for our communities. Instead, they and other health inequities are alerting us to the inevitable challenges to control COVID-19. We must address inequities in birth, COVID-19, and other health issues. 

“State maternal mortality review committees across the country have identified Medicaid extension in the postpartum period as a foundational policy for addressing our nation’s maternal mortality crisis. If enacted, the postpartum Medicaid extension provision in the COVID-19 relief legislation will be a significant down payment on Congress’ continued efforts to end preventable maternal death and eliminate racial inequities in maternal health outcomes. The postpartum Medicaid policy included in the COVID-19 bill is an important and necessary step towards this goal.” 

The postpartum Medicaid extension provision included in the E&C bill would:

  • Provide an option for states to extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum, which will streamline state efforts to achieve this policy. We’ll need to continue to advocate for this policy to be mandatory for states with sufficient federal matching funds;
  • Require full Medicaid benefits 
  • Apply to all postpartum individuals with Medicaid coverage regardless of eligibility pathway;
  • Apply to all postpartum individuals with Medicaid coverage regardless of health condition Apply to all postpartum individuals with CHIP coverage in those states that extend coverage to pregnant individuals under CHIP;
  • Not include additional federal matching funds. A significant FMAP bump is something we’ll need to continue to advocate for.
  • Sunset after 5 years. We’ll need to continue to advocate for a permanent policy for Medicaid extension to 12 months postpartum.

HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting. HealthConnect One is committed to collaborating with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to ensure safe and healthy pregnancies and births, thriving babies and families, and successful early parenting and nutrition.

###

Kristian Ramos

Autonomy Strategies

Historic legislation introduced on Black Maternal Health

On Monday, February 8, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker, and the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced historic legislation to address the maternal health crisis for Black women and birthing people of color.

Call your member of Congress today! Let them know you want them to support birthing families.

When you call your member of Congress, the staff keeps track of the issues people are concerned about to help your member of Congress decide where to focus. When you call, you help your member of Congress by letting them know about important issues and legislation that will make a difference in your community.

Your call makes a difference!

Call your member of Congress today and tell them you need them to support birth justice – the most fundamental of racial justice issues – by supporting the Momnibus.

Here’s how:

Call the Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the office of your member of Congress.

When calling, say that you are a constituent and you want your member of Congress to support the Momnibus.

Here are some talking points:

– Black moms in the US are 3 to 4 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications

– The Momnibus includes 12 bills to address the drivers of this crisis and #SaveMoms

– Black moms, women of color, & birthing people in the U.S. should not lose their lives bringing life into the world

– The Momnibus is a historic step forward towards achieving maternal health justice

– We must invest in solutions to save Black moms, women of color, & birthing people in the U.S.

The Momnibus will also support the birth worker community by:

Investing in community-based organizations and diversifying and growing the birth worker community.

Your voice is so important- join us in letting members of Congress know that we need them – now more than ever – to support birthing people, mothers, babies, and families.

With thanks from the HealthConnect One team!

Honoring Birth Justice Heroes: Looking To The Past As We Chart A New Future

Many active birth justice heroes embody Sankofa, a Ghanaian symbol that represents the importance of looking back to our traditions and culture as we move forward. It is essential that as we work toward birth justice, we bring forward our brilliance and traditions to promote unity, wellness and health in our Black community and innovate toward a brighter future.

In the last year, the needs of moms and babies in the Black community have been increasingly overshadowed by the pandemic, racial tension and the associated fallout. Birth justice leaders have persisted and adapted their work despite the challenges, leaning in, advocating with and supporting moms, babies, families and communities. We will proudly honor the work being done by partners and collaborators in the Black community to promote birth justice throughout the month and the year, because the greatness, progress and innovation of the Black community must be celebrated each day, not just in February.

We have begun our planning for our W.K. Kellogg First Food Equity Program, where we will facilitate positive change to ensure culturally reflective breastfeeding support in 20 locations across the US.

HealthConnect One is working to rebuild community health by partnering and collaborating with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that experience the greatest inequity in the current system. As our country grapples with pandemic-related challenges and the movement toward racial and social justice, the time is now to support and advance outcomes that build healthy communities. 

HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting. HealthConnect One is committed to collaborating with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to ensure safe and healthy pregnancies and births, thriving babies and families, and successful early parenting and nutrition.

Racial Equity for All Moms, Babies and Families

It was a warm day in August 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his powerful “I Have A Dream” speech to a peaceful crowd of marchers at the Lincoln Memorial. “I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”

Now more than ever, Dr. King’s dream resonates with families across the nation. It comes at a turbulent time when Black, Brown, and Indigenous families are devastated by Covid-19, racial tensions, and the aftermath of an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Today, we look to Dr. King’s legacy for answers to these pressing issues because his life is a lesson of hope for all of us. Dr. King’s words and acts of nonviolent resistance like grassroots organizing and protests demonstrate the power of social change.  We must continue this legacy with vitality and commitment to dismantling racism and the systems that uphold it.

Dr. King’s example and leadership are important for HealthConnect One as we continue to fight for racial equity. We do this through co-developed peer-to-peer programs that decrease maternal and infant mortality and increase bonding, breastfeeding, maternal support networks, and early learning for infants. Our vision is to see every Black, Brown, and Indigenous mom, baby, and family thrive in a healthy community.

As we continue to work towards a collective “American dream,” we encourage you to be intentional each day in centering and lifting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities who are struggling while “dreaming of the day they can live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

Protect Democracy for Moms, Babies and Families

Shirley Chilsom once said, “unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty, and racism, and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free.”

All these years later, America is still combating poverty, racism, and we are still fighting for decency.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the insurrection that took place in our nation’s capital over the certification of our election results. Make no mistake, the world watched the chaos in the capital.

This assault on our democracy is sending the wrong message.  

We should be celebrating the election of Rev. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock for his historic win, becoming the first Black senator from Georgia. 

We should be congratulating US Senator-elect Jon Ossoff on his election. 

Both Warnock and Ossoff support the Affordable Care Act, which is critical to healthy births in the Black, Brown and Indigenous communities where HealthConnect One co-develops programs with community members and organizations. Both Warnock and Ossoff uphold women’s rights, particularly their pro-choice position aligns with our position on bodily autonomy at HealthConnect One. 

Despite the violence that took place in D.C., I encourage those of us who are intent on improving the lives and health of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to be proud of what we can accomplish when we work collectively. We should be invigorated and bolder than ever before to work for what is just and right in a nation where freedom is considered a central tenet.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Twylla Dillion
Executive Director

Home Visiting Yearbook 2020

HealthConnect One is excited to be featured in the 2020 Home Visiting Yearbook by The National Home Visiting Resource Center (NHVRC). The yearbook is a nationwide and state-by-state look at early childhood home visiting. The publication presents 2019 data from evidence-based and emerging home visiting models and from state agencies to highlight the following:

-Where programs operate, the families they serve, and the families who could benefit but are not being reached

-State, tribal, and model profiles

-Services delivered by state awardees of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV)

NHVRC is also offering a downloadable file of key home visiting service data. Visit nhvrc.org to browse these and other resources and to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the data collection process.

You can download the HealthConnect One profile here….

You can download the full Home Visiting Yearbook here…

Post Election: Supporting Black, Brown, & Indigenous Moms, Babies, & Families

Dear friends,
 
The sun came up this morning, the garbage truck came and honked because we forgot to take out the trash, my kids, husband, and I scrambled to get everyone where they needed to be. Like every other morning, we got to where we need to be, and our work continues.
 
We at HealthConnect One and other birth equity organizations have so much critical work to do. No matter the result of the many elections, including the presidential one, our communities will need us to step up our work to improve their residents’ lives.
 
We must continue to lift the conversation that birth equity is our first and most fundamental experience with racial equity. We must continue to elevate the voices of Black, Brown, and Indigenous women/birthing people in maternal-child health. We must continue to collaborate with communities to prepare community health workers and arrive at the solutions faster. We must continue to be responsive to the changing landscape at the county, state, and national levels.  We must continue to advocate for economic equity for the work done by community health workers, including community-based doulas and peer lactation counselors.
 
We need to learn from this electoral experience and carry those learnings with us in our work. HealthConnect One is committed to supporting our communities to have ongoing understanding and participation in the legislative process, including communicating with legislators on birth, reproductive, economic, and racial justice issues.
 
Finally, no matter the outcomes of this Election Day, HealthConnect One will continue to be undeterred in our work to support birth equity in communities that have been and continue to be impacted most deliberately and profoundly by systemic, structural, interpersonal, and internalized racism.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Twylla Dillion
Executive Director
HealthConnect One