There is a maternal health and mortality crisis in this country. I have seen how it devastates families and staff in the communities we serve at our Healthy Families America (HFA) affiliate sites across the country. We mourn the lives that have already been lost—mothers, daughters, cousins, aunts, friends, community leaders, beloved employees, and so many more. To honor their memory, we in the home visiting field must pledge to do better.
Today, we stand behind Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support, and other legislators who, with him, are dedicated to doing better for parents, families, and communities. Congressman Davis and his colleagues have introduced H.R. 4768, the Home Visiting to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Act, a bill that would double the federal government’s investment in evidence-based home visiting—from $400 million to $800 million over a two-year period through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program—to reach more families and address risk factors associated with maternal mortality and morbidity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately three in five pregnancy-related deaths were preventable, and home visiting is an integral part of the solution. HFA is a two-generation model that demonstrates powerful outcomes for mothers and babies: rigorous studies show a 70% reduction in pregnancy complications and 48% fewer cases of low-weight births. Moreover, HFA contributes to positive mental health scores and increases the likelihood that children have insurance coverage and parents have a primary care provider who understand their concerns.
Currently, HFA serves nearly 73,000 families each year at nearly 600 sites in 38 states, Washington, DC, five US Territories, and Israel. But there’s so much more work to do. Increasing evidence points to stress, racial disparities and inequities, and systemic biases as contributing factors in maternal and infant mortality. These are complex challenges that defy quick and easy fixes.
At HFA we understand that prevention happens in partnership, and we commit ourselves to being a part of—and partner in—the solution. We vow to both actively pursue strategies that eliminate the deep-rooted causes of maternal and infant mortality and to work collaboratively with our partners in the home visiting field, and other organizations throughout the country that are doing the same. Please join me in contacting your member of Congress today, and urge him/her to support H.R. 4768.
Healthy Families America National Director