According to the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, in Minnesota, babies of U.S.-born Black pregnant people suffer twice the rate of low-birth weight and other adverse birth issues as their white counterparts. And in our state, Black women are 2.3 times more likely to die of pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes than their white counterparts. Structural racism and subsequent health inequities in the Black community are ever-present, leading to a disproportionate prevalence of adverse pregnancy outcomes experienced by Black childbearing families. This is why we believe it’s critical to wrap families with support as early as possible, setting children up for success before they are even born.
To ensure that all families are supported throughout their birth journey and have partners along the way to help advocate for them, we have partnered with Everyday Miracles to incorporate doula services in our offerings to pregnant NAZ families.
A birth doula, commonly called a “doula,” is a person who is trained to offer evidence-based information about a healthy pregnancy, help prepare birthing people for birth and parenting, and provide physical and emotional support to the family before, during, and after delivery. A doula’s primary responsibility is to the birthing person—not to a hospital administrator, nurse, midwife, or doctor, which is critical for advocating for the birthing people and their children. Of Everyday Miracle’s clients from last year, 19% said they would have been alone at their birth if they didn’t have a doula, further affirming the need for advocates throughout the birthing journey of families. Additionally, we aim to match birthing people with doulas that also match their cultural identity.
In addition, as a way of continuing to support families in their earliest stages with their child, NAZ has engaged the services of Way to Grow (an existing NAZ partner) to execute our latest early childhood program addition – home visiting. NAZ has been working with the organization for eight months to pilot this program for NAZ families. Way to Grow uses the nationally-known, evidence-based curriculum ‘Parents as Teachers’.
Their signature home-visiting program pairs enrolled families with a certified Family Educator to answer questions, provide resources, and connect families with the tools they need to create a healthy, stable environment at home. Family Educators focus on building trusted relationships with parents and children, helping to prioritize personal well-being goals, increasing knowledge of parenting and child development, health education, and ways to grow children’s literacy and social and emotional development.
This partnership with Way to Grow comes directly from feedback from our families. Our Family Achievement Coaches shared that many of our youngest scholars were in “family, friend, and neighbor care” or at home with their parents – and not within a structured learning setting or environment. This was due to various reasons, including the sporadic shutdowns of centers due to COVID-19 conflicting with their work schedules, rising childcare costs, etc. We also conducted a survey where we identified that many of our scholars 0-5 were at home with their families instead of an ECE center. However, these families were still looking for ways to support their children’s learning and development. Our home visiting partnership with Way to Grow gives families another way receive early childhood education while continuing to support their scholar in the home.