Developing Families Centers award seven nonprofit organizations fighting for greater maternal health outcomes in D.C. (Courtesy photo)
Developing Families Centers award seven nonprofit organizations fighting for greater maternal health outcomes in D.C. (Courtesy photo)

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Developing Families Center (DFC) has expanded efforts to improve health outcomes for District mothers through its latest investment, dedicating $1.5 million between the seven selected 2023 Catalytic Fund Awardees. Each award recipient is a nonprofit organization fighting for greater maternal health outcomes across the city. 

“For Developing Families Center, one of the reasons why we invest, and will continue to invest and have a priority area through our major fund in child development, [is to] focus on trauma-informed training for employees so that mothers can feel comfortable when they do get home, and have to go back to work,” said DFC Executive Director Ruth Pollard, MS, MBA.  “That they can go to a child care education center that they know they can trust in their community, with persons that are trained to understand any particular, unique needs of a new mom, or a mom that is still struggling with some of the support systems.” 

DFC, a longstanding stalwart organization based out of the Ward 5 community, in partnership with the GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, conducted a community health needs assessment focused on maternal health in Wards 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.  

The team reached within the trusted network of organizations who have shown and proven their efforts to boost health outcomes for Black mothers in the community, eventually selecting: Community Hope Center, Edward C. Mazique Parent and Child Center, Mamatoto Village, National Association to Advance Black Birth, The GWU Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, District of Columbia Hospital Association Program Services Company, and the Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas.

Mamatoto Village, a maternal health organization providing care to Black women and families is a proud recipient of the DFC funding and shared that the financial award will be used to expand training opportunities for Black women to develop careers as community health workers, birth workers, lactation consultants, and care specialists. 

“A $25,000 grant from the Developing Families Center will support our work by underwriting scholarships for our trainees.  This generous and meaningful funding will make our training more financially accessible for the women we train throughout the year,” the organization told The Informer.

“Mamatoto Village is grateful for this new partnership with the Developing Families Center, and together, we will strengthen and advance the local maternal health workforce.”

Developing Families Center’s Work 

Since its founding in 2000, DFC has worked toward the mission of educating and advocating for quality care, equity, and access in the maternal health space for women of color.  Many of their clients rely on their support to prevent becoming another startling statistic, as the 2020 Maternal Mortality Review Committee reported that Black women across the District make up 90% of all birth-related deaths, despite only accounting for roughly half of all births in the city.  The DFC works to create better health outcomes for birthing mothers within low-income families across the District.

“Being able to have that kind of access to care, to nutrition counseling, to even supportive kinds of services continues to be a challenge for us in the District, and even nationally,” said Pollard. “ [There are] significant barriers to critical resources, [and] disparities in healthcare that exist. All of this is validated by what we hear from mothers of color saying they are treated differently, and not given access to the same resources, or the conversations are different.” 

DFC is proud to collaborate with the chosen awardees in the spirit of Black maternal health, and for those on the frontline of childcare advocacy, and support of services for women of color.

“Being a voice for ensuring that we have these types of supportive services for our mothers and women of color is very important. We have to understand what that collective impact can do, as well as educate and inform our Black women, [and] our brown women to be a voice and advocate for themselves.” Pollard said.

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