WHAMglobal Kicks Off Statewide Doula and Perinatal Community Health Worker Advisory Group

The Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal) convened a statewide Doula and Perinatal Community Health Worker Advisory Group, to create more equitable access to doulas and to develop a statewide infrastructure to support the work of doulas and perinatal community health workers across Pennsylvania.

The Advisory Group first met on April 20 to identify long-term goals for the group and to learn about financing options, which were presented by representatives from the PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Zander and Pamela Machamer-Peechatka. As a partner, the PA DHS will provide information to the Advisory Group to help the group consider the different options and make recommendations. The Advisory Group discussion centered on the importance of removing barriers for doulas of various, experienced backgrounds to become certified, and to provide access to doulas for mothers regardless of whether they seek medical care. Other topics included uplifting doulas as a crucial, professional role in the birthing care team and to make space for doulas who identify as and serve clients of all genders and sexualities.

The Advisory Group will aim to gain consensus on education and certification standards for doulas in Pennsylvania; create a mechanism to operationalize a certification credential for doulas in Pennsylvania (including a registry of certified doulas); and advance recommendations for how to finance the critical work of certified doulas in Pennsylvania.

This Advisory Group will be inclusive, representing doulas, perinatal community health workers, doula and perinatal community health worker training programs, community organizations, commercial health plans, Medicaid managed care organizations, state agencies, women's health providers, certification organizations in Pennsylvania, and other stakeholders.

The Advisory Group will meet every three weeks for one hour. Future meetings will be used to edit and refine the recommendations for the education/certification standards and the financing/reimbursement strategies. While this Advisory Group has an initial scope, WHAMglobal intends for the Advisory Group to expand and continue over time. To support this long-term goal, the Advisory Group will create a transparent process for identifying co-chairs recommended by the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group could expand its goals to further support the doula and perinatal community health workforce in Pennsylvania based on the direction of the co-chairs and members. 

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