On September 17, the Biden administration announced it would invest approximately $350 million to improve maternal and child health through funding to several key federal programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The funds will be used to increase access to home visiting services and doulas, address health disparities in infant deaths, and improve data reporting on maternal mortality.
Specifically, the HRSA will invest these funds in the following programs:
- The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program will award $342 million to support pregnancy education, parenting skill-building, and distribute resources including diapers, wipes and hand sanitizers. Additionally, funds will assist families in securing food, housing, and other social services. Counties are not primary recipients of MIECHV funding and must have funds suballocated from state health and human service agencies and nonprofits, which are direct awardees of the grants. To see all awardees for FY 2021, click here.
- The Healthy Start Initiative is a community-led program that funds counties directly in 10 states to reduce infant death and severe maternal illness. New funding announced by HRSA will invest $3 million to increase the availability of doulas, professionally trained birth coaches, through certification and compensation. Approximately $1.6 million will be invested in using local action plans and data-driven policy to reduce disparities in regional areas with the highest rates of minority infant death. Lastly, approximately $600,000 will be invested in the State Systems Developmental Initiative (SSDI) to increase the collection and report on maternal health data, particularly focusing on collecting and utilizing data on race, ethnicity and social determinants of health. Three counties – Maricopa County, Ariz., Alameda County, Calif. and Davidson County, Tenn. – will receive direct funding for the community-based doula program and two counties – Sedgwick County, Kan. and Onondaga County N.Y. will receive direct funding for the infant health equity program. Click here to see the full list of awardees for these programs and here for the awardees of the SSDI program.
On May 11, 2021, through the American Rescue Plan, HRSA awarded around $40 million in emergency home visiting funds to support individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MIECHV Program, through HRSA, provided services and emergency supplies, including diapers, food, water, hand sanitizer, access to technology for families to participate in virtual home visits and training on how to conduct virtual intimate partner violence screenings safely. The MIECHV Program supports pregnant people and parents with young children who live in communities with barriers and risks impacting maternal and child health outcomes.
As key administrators of local health and human services, counties are crucial stakeholders in reducing rates of maternal mortality across the nation. With the support of these and other federal investments, county leaders can provide the resources and services needed to address this important issue.
- NACo Blog: Counties Leading the Charge Against Maternal Mortality
- NACo Blog: Opportunities to Invest State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds in Prenatal to Three