Proposed Collective Plan Would Address Maternal Health Crisis in Pennsylvania


A pregnant woman is examined by a physician.
Image via iStock.
The Foundation for Delaware County supports a Perinatal Health Policy Collaborative plan to improve maternal health in Delaware County and Pennsylvania.

The Foundation for Delaware County contributed to a statewide collective plan to raise awareness of recommendations to improve maternal health, reduce racial/ethnic disparities in Pennsylvania and end a maternal health crisis.

The Foundation’s contribution came on Jan. 23, PA Maternal Health Awareness Day,

In Pennsylvania, pregnancy-associated mortality rates are two times greater for non-Hispanic Blacks than non-Hispanic whites.

The plan includes recommendations that the State Administration could achieve in a 12-month period. It also describes how stakeholders can support the priorities.

In November 2023, more than 25 maternal health organizations and groups across Pennsylvania worked together to develop a prioritized list of recommendations for private and public stakeholders to advance in 2024.

Over the past two months, these organizations met several times and completed surveys to understand and uplift each other’s existing work and maternal health policy ideas.

The Collective Plan is uplifting the following existing recommendations from members of the group:

  • Establish a Perinatal Behavioral Health Access Program to provide consultation and expertise to providers on how to identify and care for women and pregnant people with mental health or substance use-related needs
  • Reimburse Doulas who provide emotional, physical, and informational support to women and pregnant people
  • Reimburse Community Health Workers who serve the communities in which they reside or communities with which they may share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, or life experiences to improve health outcomes in the community
  • Build a diverse, culturally appropriate perinatal health workforce
  • Increase enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social service referrals, and healthy foods
  • Support educational campaigns with trusted community partners about maternal health and the available services and supports in the community

The Collective Plan is building on past and recent achievements in Pennsylvania, including the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative, home visiting requirements and a value-based payment model for maternity care in the Medicaid managed care program, surveillance of severe maternal morbidity, a Maternal and Child Health Fund initiative, increases in WIC enrollment, and new policies for Doulas and Community Health Workers.

“At The Foundation for Delaware County, our public health programs work to improve maternal, infant, and family health in Delaware County,” said Joanne D. Craig, Chief Impact Officer of The Foundation for Delaware County. “The closing of Delaware County Memorial Hospital and the reduction of healthcare resources is putting pregnant people, mothers, and their babies at risk in our community. We know that these impacts are not felt equally across Delaware County and that low-income families, especially Black mothers, infants, and families, are bearing the brunt of these setbacks.

“Black infants in Delaware County die at more than twice the national rate, and in Chester, Black infants die at four times the national rate. We are urging Governor Shapiro to take action on the proposed policy recommendations to improve maternal health and birth outcomes and reduce disparities.”

Find out more about the collaborative plan.

The Foundation for Delaware County is the largest philanthropy in Delaware County. The Foundation offers support and resources for nonprofits of every size, helps generous people give with more impact, brings together funders, nonprofits, and elected officials to address critical community problems, and responds to major challenges and crises as they arise.

In addition to grant funding, the Foundation operates the Center for Nonprofit Excellence to strengthen Delaware County’s nonprofit community through training workshops and peer learning opportunities.

The Foundation encourages philanthropy by connecting donors to worthy causes through efficient charitable giving vehicles like donor-advised and scholarship funds.

On May 8-9, 2024, the Foundation will launch Delaware County’s first 24-hour online giving day: Delco Gives Day.

In addition, the Foundation operates the prestigious public health programs Healthy Start, the WIC nutrition program, and the Nurse-Family Partnership.

In addition to the Housing Opportunities Program for Equity (HOPE), other programs include El Centro (a Hispanic resource center) and a health resource center for students in the Chester Upland School District.

Visit the Foundation. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @DelcoFdn.

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