Governor DeWine announces $5 Million in funding to improve maternal and infant health

Staff Report

COLUMBUS—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Health, in partnership with the Governor’s Children’s Initiative has awarded $5 million to 44 community- and faith-based organizations to improve supports to pregnant women and newly parenting families.

“These resources will provide communities across the state with new funding to begin or expand services to help more babies reach their first birthdays and support healthy parents,” said Governor DeWine. “We are committed to reducing the unacceptable infant mortality rate in Ohio because all babies deserve a healthy start and an opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential.”

The goal of these resources is to provide funding to improve infant and maternal health outcomes. These dollars seek to strengthen the unique work of community- and faith-based organizations as trusted partners of Ohio’s pregnant women and new families. Funded organizations will reduce barriers to wellness for participants by providing resources and services that address gaps in existing maternal and infant systems and supports pregnant women and newly parenting families (up to 12-months postpartum).

Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant before their first birthday. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Ohio infant mortality across was 6.9 per 1,000 live births in 2019, the same as it was in 2018. The Ohio and national goal is 6.0 or fewer infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

The 44 funded projects will begin January 1, 2022, and provide support to pregnant women and new families in 42 Ohio counties. Community Action Organization of Scioto County will receive $87,749.70 to enhance the Pathways to a Healthy Pregnancy Program (PHP).

The Scioto County Pathways to a Healthy Pregnancy (PHP) Expansion program has an overarching goal of reducing health inequities resulting from sustained poverty and structural racism through a comprehensive array of services aimed at reducing disparities to maternal health, improving infant mortality rates, connecting women with providers during pregnancy, and developing new or expanding existing programs to mothers and their family members for up to 12 months post-delivery.

It is anticipated the staff will serve approximately 80 eligible pregnant women with medical and socioeconomic risk factors, achieving outcome rates for premature births below the average state-wide Medicaid rate.

Additional services and activities being planned for inclusion in this Scioto County PHP Expansion program encompass a monthly community-based baby shower, parent support groups, specialized educational opportunities, providing infant and toddler safety items, weekly exercise, and the revitalization of Lamaze in the local area.

While specialized classes centered around parenting, fatherhood, life skills, and anger management are already available in the county, the staff working with the project will become trained to provide other education on relevant topics that are not available, such as how to care for an infant.

Over the course of the next month, CAO will be working toward ramping up services for expectant mothers and their immediate family members by hiring staff and finalizing the most effective method of making services available.

If anyone has additional questions about the services made available by CAO, please have them call 740-354-7541.

Luanne Valentine, NCC, LPC, CMCS, Operations Director, stated The Scioto County PHP applied for about twice as much funding and are not yet certain what services may not have been approved but should find out in the very near future.

Staff Report