Home visitation service
helps new moms in need
This week is Black Maternal Health Week, which provides an opportunity to have a frank conversation about the support that black women need.
The statistics are overwhelming: Black and Native American women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. As CEO of the largest home visiting program, I believe it is critical that we focus on how a mother’s health impacts more than just her own.
In the 1990s as an expectant mom, I gained weight and suffered complications and preterm labor. I was afraid to take home a newborn.
Thankfully, I was referred to Parents as Teachers (PAT), where a trained home visitor answered my anxious questions and calmed my fears. I obtained lifelong parenting tools and raised a healthy son.
Home visiting is well-documented as one of our nation’s greatest low-cost, high-impact resources for women facing stressors. Home visitors help parents gain understanding of their baby’s development and can connect them to community resources.
Women are screened for complications, maternal depression postpartum and more, and then they receive appropriate referrals. Early health and developmental screenings for babies and children help identify concerns so families can be linked to services.
States like Virginia are leaders in support of women and children. We commend Gov. Ralph Northam, who announced a proposed 2020 budget to include $22 million to combat maternal and infant mortality, and to reduce the racial disparity in Virginia’s mortality rate — $12.8 million would make home visiting eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.
We need more community leaders to invest in our most stressed mothers and children. Locally embedded home visiting programs are essential in combating social determinants of health.
Let’s celebrate Black Maternal Health Week with a commitment to deliver what families need.
President and CEO, Parents as Teachers National Center.
St. Louis, Mo.