Open Arms Perinatal Services: Addressing Disparities in Birth Outcomes for King County’s Most Vulnerable Communities


Grantee: Open Arms Perinatal Services
Timeframe: July 2016 – June 2019 | Total Amount: $285,000

Year 1: July 2016 – June 2017. Amount: $80,000
Year 2: July 2017 – June 2018. Amount: $95,000
Year 3: July 2018 – June 2019. Amount: $110,000

Open Arms provides birth and outreach doula services and trains community members to become certified doulas in order to promote maternal and infant health and help to eliminate perinatal health disparities. This project will train and hire new doulas from the African American and Native communities to meet demand from these two communities and serve at least 32 more Native and African American pregnant clients with doulas from their communities, to help address stark disparities in birth outcomes. Doulas will be recruited from Open Arms’ networks of doulas of color and from former African American clients who have expressed interest in becoming a doula. Native trainees will also be recruited through a long-term partnership with the Native American Women’s Dialogue on Infant Mortality.

Open Arms’ accredited Community Based Doula training, developed by HealthConnect One, helps develop the capacity of women in underserved communities to provide support within their cultural and linguistic communities during the critical months of pregnancy, birth and the earliest months of parenting. The program offers 8 hours of training once a week for 10 weeks, including the physiology of pregnancy, labor, and birth. Participants receive a meal and childcare and transportation reimbursement. Upon training completion, participants attend at least three births with an experienced doula mentor. Per accreditation requirements, the Outreach Doula training will be conducted by the Deputy Director and at least one other trainer who has been certified to train using the curriculum. Each community trained has one community representative present to provide expertise and support. The Birth Doulas will be trained in a 5-day program at the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Professions at Bastyr University, and will earn their certification through the Pacific Association for Labor Support (PALS). They will also undergo an 8 hour training offered by Open Arms about cultural competency, systems of oppression, and the additional challenges faced by birthing women living in poverty.

Open Arms will conduct the training for at least four Native and four African American women, along with at four Latina and four Somali women. Two African American Outreach Doulas will be hired from the group that completes this CBD training. One will be hired as a part-time employee with PHPDA support, to work in partnership with a second new full-time African American doula who will be hired through Thrive Washington funding. These Outreach Doulas will complete all training and certification in content that includes Promoting First Relationships (PFR) and Partner with Families for Early Learning (PFEL). The part-time African American doula will have a case load of 7 mother-infant pairs that will be visited twice a month during pregnancy as well as postpartum for two years. The remaining 2 African American doulas and 4 Native doulas who have undergone the CBD training will be hired as contracted birth doulas, along with 3 other recruited individuals. In total, at least 7 birth doulas will each serve at least 4 mother-infant pairs during the project period. The new Program Manager position will coordinate training logistics, recruitment efforts, as well as provide case management and supervision. They will enter all client data and track project outputs. Open Arms’ Deputy Director will provide supervision of the outreach doula, lead the efforts to recruit and train new doulas, and will be responsible for project outcomes and outputs. The current Program Manager position will supervise new birth doulas, provide case management and referrals. Open Arms’s Executive Director will help with program reporting, as well as evaluation.

About our Grantee

Open Arms Perinatal Services

Open Arms’ mission is to provide services that support, educate, respect, honor, and empower women and their families during pregnancy, through birth and into early parenting. We are committed to providing strong community-based, culturally-appropriate support to low-income women and families to enable them to establish positive powerful foundations for their children. Open Arms embraces a world that cherishes birthing women, their babies, families, and communities.

Major Grant

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