Maternal Health Workforce Priorities
WHAMglobal prioritizes supporting maternal health workers. From 2020 to 2021, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s (JHF’s) Maternity Full Court Press Team catalyzed WHAMglobal’s efforts to advance policies that consider the scope of work for midwives, doulas, and perinatal and community health workers. WHAMglobal now continues to push for maternal health workforce infrastructure, continuity of care, access to a variety of care options, and worker certification and reimbursement.
In April 2021, WHAMglobal first convened the statewide Doula and Perinatal Community Health Worker Advisory Group of 100+ members, to create more equitable access to doulas and to develop an infrastructure to support doulas and perinatal community health workers across Pennsylvania. Within the Advisory Group, a Doula Alliance led by five doulas has gained consensus on definitions, core competencies, and standards to create a doula certification program in Pennsylvania and to reimburse and certify doulas.
In December 2021, JHF and WHAMglobal guided the PA Doula Commission to launch as a nonprofit organization, with a mission to promote equitable access to doula services through workforce development for the doula profession, while facilitating childbirth with dignity, improving perinatal health outcomes, and eliminating barriers by reducing healthcare disparities. WHAMglobal will continue to support the PA Doula Commission as the Commission works with the PA Department of Human Services, the PA Certification Board, and doulas across Pennsylvania in further advocacy.
These projects build upon JHF’s two-year, $230,000 grant to the Allegheny Health Network in 2017 to improve maternal health among Pittsburgh’s Latino, Bhutanese, and Somali communities by implementing a doula community health worker demonstration program. Through the program, Allegheny Health Network’s Center for Inclusion Health and WHAMglobal demonstrated the important role of doula community health workers in improving maternal health and provide the opportunity for credentialing and ongoing training using a new curriculum for community health workers.
As a result of WHAMglobal’s work, there is now a commitment and process in place to gain certification for doulas in 2022 and Medicaid reimbursement for doulas in 2023.