(May 2020) CFWNC recently approved a $40,560 Early Childhood Development grant to Mountain Area Heath Education Center (MAHEC) for the SistasCaring4Sistas Community Based Doulas program. The Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant.
The disparity in infant mortality between black and white babies in Buncombe County is significant: four black infants die for every one white infant -- higher than state and national averages. SistasCaring4Sistas Community Based Doulas’ mission is to eradicate disparities in maternal and infant mortality by providing education and doula services to families who face adverse maternal health outcomes before, during and after pregnancy. The program focuses on families of color and builds on CFWNC’s support of home visitation programs such as the Nurse Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers.
Grant funds will support the salary of a full-time doula while MAHEC waits for Medicaid Transformation to begin reimbursing for doula services, allowing an additional 24 pregnant women to access services annually. Efforts to hire doulas from within the communities being served will be made.
Significant evidence supports the effectiveness of doula programs. Data demonstrates the link between doulas and higher rates of breastfeeding, decreased rates of Cesarean section deliveries, decreased length of labor, improved mother-infant interactions and decreased evidence of maternal depression. These results highlight the doula's role in strengthening parent-child bonds and promoting healthy intellectual and emotional development for the new baby.