Central Texas offers a variety of maternity services and maternity care – if you are well-insured or can pay out of pocket. For the uninsured and underinsured, maternity care options dramatically shrink. At the end of 2020, the Maternal Health Equity Collaborative (MHEC) produced a report identifying the equity gaps in care across Central Texas. The findings, and related recommendations, were used to inform the strategy around the 2021 Perinatal Safe Zone Request for Proposals – Supporting Healthier Pregnancies Together. We encourage our community partners, funders and other maternal health stakeholders to use this valuable resource to inform their work as we all strive to reduce health inequities for mothers in Texas
Overview of Maternal Health Equity Collaborative: The Maternal Health Equity Collaborative formed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to better address the evolving needs of mothers in Central Texas. The four founding organizations, Black Mamas ATX, Giving Austin Labor Support, Healing Hands Community Doula Project, and Mama Sana Vibrant Women, came together to re-envision what service provision could look like for families experiencing birth inequities. The organizations that comprise the MHEC work to build community through humanization and healing centering Black women and women of color – both in leading the collaborative, and in the work they do, and with the community.
“Systemic racism forms the basis upon which current inequities in the perinatal and postpartum health care system are built. This has created various gaps in care that directly impact the health and mortality of the BIPOC community,” said Kelenne Blake-Fallon, the Communications Director for the MHEC.
In late 2020, MHEC came together to improve outcomes before, during and after birth for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC). They identified gaps in maternity care at the systems level which are contributing to inequities and poor maternal outcomes – particularly for women of color. The report provides specific recommendations to support holistic, whole person care, antiracism work as a priority, and policy for the people. Central to reducing inequities in maternal health is fostering well-resourced communities where lived experience – specifically from the BIPOC community – plays a major role in funding decisions for community-led organizations.
These recommendations informed the Foundation’s Request for Proposals: Perinatal Safe Zone – Supporting Healthier Pregnancies Together (May 2021). This funding opportunity focused on creating a safe space for birthing people of color in Central Texas to access timely and effective perinatal supports. Further, the RFP prioritized efforts designed by and led by people of color and low-income women who are disproportionately impacted by poor perinatal outcomes.