Cephas, Tartaglione announce $25.6M in funding for maternal, child health

State lawmakers detail new initiative during visit to new Temple Hospital

PHILADELPHIA, April 14 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas and state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, along with fellow lawmakers and the Wolf administration, today announced $25.6 million in American Rescue Plan funding to be allocated for a new maternal and child health initiative in Pennsylvania. The funding announcement also coincides with Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17.

“With the promise in this funding, we are putting money into solving maternal mortality and working to address the social determinants of health that contribute to the crisis we are experiencing across Pennsylvania," Cephas said. “The administration’s opting Pennsylvania into extended Medicaid was a major move to start solving part of the crisis now, as well. That program began April 1, and the initiatives we’re announcing today are going to reach millions of more birthing parents and children through doula services, targeted services, healthy eating pilot programs and lead remediation.”

“Our democratic counterparts in the US House and Senate sent Pennsylvania billions of dollars in the American Rescue Plan to reinvest to strengthen our commonwealth,” Tartaglione said. “We cannot let the historic opportunity afforded to us pass without making life-changing and crucially needed investments in historically disinvested communities. The allocation of this grant money will help Temple Woman’s and Infant’s Hospital finally open their doors and increase the community’s access to high-quality care right in their neighborhood.”

Cephas and Tartaglione were joined by state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler and Jason Dawkins, both D-Phila., Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, and other advocates at Temple University’s new Hospital for Women’s Health in Philadelphia.

“Nearly 10,000 children were poisoned by lead in Pennsylvania in 2018. We know that lead-contaminated water and paint are a severe detriment to children’s health outcomes and opportunities, especially in poor and working-class communities and communities of color ... that disproportionately bear the burden of legacy environmental hazards. Exposure to lead can cause behavior problems, hearing issues and anemia in children. Exposure during pregnancy can lead to premature birth. We need to allocate these ARP funds to protect the health of our families now, and the future of our city and Commonwealth,” Fiedler said.

“As an obstetrician and gynecologist I have dedicated my life’s work to safeguarding maternal health,” Johnson said. “As a Black woman, I am especially pleased to see these investments being announced during national Black Maternal Health Week because maternal mortality rates for women of color are up to three times higher than for white women. We must continue to do more to erase that disparity and these initiatives are a step in the right direction.”

The funding includes more than $5 million for new equipment at Temple University Hospital for Women’s Health.

“Temple Health is dedicated to reducing infant and maternal mortality in our communities, and improving access to the health care services that women and families need,” said Kim Hanson, vice president of nursing at Temple Health. “We are proud to partner with the Commonwealth, along with many of our partners here, in the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative, Philadelphia’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, and other collaborations to improve care for pregnant and postpartum women and newborns.”

Also included in the initiative is funding for doula services, healthy eating, maternal care and lead remediation.

“House and Senate Democrats deserve recognition for investing in an ongoing crisis affecting nearly 8,000 Pennsylvania children every year,” said Saumya Arragari, public health nurse home visitor for Nurse Family Partnership. “Imagine the fear a family faces knowing their child has been poisoned for life from lead paint that should have been remediated decades ago — I’ve seen that fear. This funding will save some families from this 100% preventable poisoning, but we at the Lead-Free Promise Project know that it is a down payment on the larger problem and will continue to fight until it is eliminated from homes and all kids at ages one and two are screened for lead paint poisoning."

The COVID-19 Nurturing Maternal and Child Health Initiative recognizes the impact the pandemic had on Pennsylvania communities and makes strategic investments to begin the implementation of inventive and informed improvements.

The NMCH will fund programs in the following categories:

  • Lead abatement and remediation ($10 million).
  • Medicaid expansion for 12-months postpartum (Pennsylvania Department of Human Services funded).
  • Doula certification and workforce development ($600,000).
  • Doula services for Pennsylvania incarcerated people ($100,000).    
  • Whole mother care ($5.2 million to Temple Health).                             
  • Grants for local maternal mortality review committees ($200,000).
  • Maternal care innovation grants ($5 million).
  • Healthy food pilot ($2.5 million).
  • New mom/new baby training ($1 million).
  • Free at-home pregnancy tests ($1 million).

Lawmakers thanked the Jewish Health Foundation, which will administer several of the grant programs within the NMCH.

“The Jewish Healthcare Foundation has been engaged for the past five years with public and private partners to improve pregnancy outcomes and reduce maternal mortality across Pennsylvania,” said Karen Wolk Feinstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. “We are pleased that the Commonwealth is entrusting us with the opportunity to further that work by serving as an administrator of a portion of the ARPA funds. This new funding will advance essential programs and services that benefit the health and well-being of Pennsylvania’s mothers and families.”