HSD announces $75,000 award to fund birth doula services for low income women

Seattle Human Services Department announces $75,000 award to fund birth doula services for low income women

Today, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) announced a $75,000 grant award to Open Arms Perinatal Services to fund birth doula services for low income women of color.

“Building strong and vibrant families and communities begins with creating an environment that supports a healthy start for all babies, said HSD Acting Director, Catherine Lester. “The funding announced today will fund birth doula services for 50 low income pregnant women and their newborns, who may also be immigrant, refugee, homeless, or have a limited ability to speak English.”

Birth Doulas will provide support to pregnant women before, during, and in the weeks following birth. Services include supportive home visits in the last trimester of pregnancy, attendance during labor and delivery, and postpartum home visits after babies are born. In working with vulnerable populations, Birth Doulas also serve as cultural and relational brokers with public health and other medical providers, social services, and government agencies.

This competitive award is a part of HSD’s continuous effort to institute performance-based investments and uses data to steer the department’s resources to nonprofits who demonstrate their ability to serve the community’s most in need.   HSD seeks to ensure the City’s finite resources are being directed to programs that can best leverage the investments for maximum impact on reducing disparities.

Since 1997, Open Arms Perinatal Services has been providing strong community-based support for women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Open Arms serves nearly 200 women each year, supporting and caring for low-income families at a pivotal time when the positive impact is most profound – and when the cost of being unsupported can be equally profound. One hundred percent of the women served are at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

The Seattle Human Services Department is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net as it provides $99 million in funding through 522 contracts to nearly 200 agencies that support Seattle’s most vulnerable residents each year.  The department works closely with its community partners, including other public and nonprofit funders and service providers, to understand current and emerging human service needs, and to create and invest in a comprehensive and integrated regional human services system.

For more information about HSD Funding Opportunities and application materials, visit HSD’s Funding Opportunities webpage.


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Big Changes are Coming for Health and Human Services

Transformation. Integration. Collaboration. These three buzz words are changing the face of health and human services. Earlier this year, Washington State, home to some of the most innovative and transformational efforts in the nation, released their health care innovation plan. The plan identifies three core strategies to improve health and healthcare while lowering costs:

  1. Improve how we pay for services;
  2. Ensure health care focuses on the whole person; and
  3. Build healthier communities through a collaborative regional approach known as Accountable Communities of Health (ACH).

In support of this third strategy, King County is convening a cross-sector, community-based partnership structure to address our significant health, social and racial disparities. Based on the premise that no single sector or organization can create lasting change in health and health care alone, ACH will provide the framework for coordination between clinical, community, and government partners. Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) is a key partner in ACH planning efforts which will begin this summer in preparation for a 2015 launch.

The Accountable Communities of Health is just one of the innovative planning efforts taking place in King County. The King County Health and Human Services Transformation Plan charts a five year course to affect real change, both at the community and individual levels.

To impact community level change, one-time funding is now available to support system, policy and practice change efforts that decrease inequity in the areas where health, housing, and economic opportunity intersect. Later this fall, the county in partnership with the Seattle Foundation will release multi-year investments targeted to specific geographic communities.

One strategy to impact individual level change is to improve health and social outcomes for adults with complex health and social challenges. The Medicaid-Medicare Duals Demonstration Project is an opportunity where organizations and payers are collaborating to improve outcomes for those with complex needs. Aging and Disability Services along with King County Department of Community and Human Services and Public Health – Seattle & King County are working side by side with managed care organizations (MCOs) to design a new coordinated service delivery system. The two MCOs, Regence and UnitedHealth, will assume all risk for the medical and behavioral health and long-term care of 36,000 dual-eligibles beginning April 2015. ADS will continue to provide quality case management for the MCOs while embracing their new role in achieving better health outcomes.

Transformation. Integration. Collaboration. Washington, King County, and HSD will use these three concepts to change the face of health and human services resulting in better health and better care at a lower cost.