Lift Every Voice
"See Them As Women, See Them As Mothers"
Lift Every Voice (LEV) is a specialized program serving mothers in Contra Costa County. Operating since 2005, LEV provides continuous perinatal support to our most vulnerable population: pregnant and low-income women detained at West County Detention Facility (WCDF).
"This program is about uplifting the parents and ensuring we have an equal partnership in establishing what their future plans are for themselves and their child(ren). We don't tell them what to do. We empower them to make better choices so that they are productive citizens."
- Jeannie Cummings, Lift Every Voice
Important Things to Know:
- The number of women in prison has doubled in the last 20 years.
- African American women are disproportionately represented in prison.
- California's Second Chance Act provides the release of thousands of inmates.
- Many are released into marginalized communities lacking the resources to support them.
How Does LEV Partner with Mothers?
- Helps them access medical coverage & ensures they receive specialized care in prison.
- Arranges for temporary guardianship of their baby.
- Helps with placement at a residential treatment center in lieu of jail time.
- Offers Family Reunification Services & Advocates for mother & baby(ies).
- Offers continuous case management following release.
- Partners with Contra Costa Office of Education to provide parenting workshops.
- Provides skill development training for WCDF staff, medical providers, and the community.
- Provides crisis management & counseling services.
- Provides companionship during labor & delivery.
- Centralizes communication between the family, the justice system, Children & Family Services, & other agencies.
- Provides community linkages to invaluable resources.
Who is Eligible?
- Pregnant & incarcerated women at WCDF
- Contra Costa County resident
Jeannie Cummings, MA
Medical Social Worker II
Lift Every Voice offers many benefits to the Department of Corrections:
- Mothers have an objective person to discuss their concerns with, and who is not affiliated with the criminal justice system.
- Serious medical or mental health conditions are often shared with the Lift Every Voice program coordinator that may not be disclosed to a medical provider, which allows primary care physicians to receive crucial information about their client's health and needs.
- Lift Every Voice provides immediate crisis support to mothers, diffusing tense situations, and reducing their stress and anxiety.
- Lift Every Voice provides invaluable resources to pregnant women and their baby(ies) including medical coverage.
Systems & Policy Issues
Shackling pregnant women during Labor and Delivery in California has been illegal since January 2006. It was not being implemented at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC). Lift Every Voice (LEV) initiated meetings with several Lieutenants and then the Commander to implement the policy at CCRMC.
As a result of a letter written by a LEV client and LEV support and follow-up, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Assemblywoman Skinner (Berkeley) introduced a bill to abolish shackling of pregnant women at anytime. AB1900 passed the Assembly and the Senate, but was vetoed by the former Governor. It was re-submitted as AB568 (Skinner Bill) for the current Governor's signature and was vetoed October 9, 2011. For the third straight year, it was submitted as AB2530 and went into effect January 1, 2013.
For more information:
- Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
- Huffington Post: Shackling Pregnant Inmates Banned Under California Law, But Many States Allow the Practice
Resources for Families
- Alcohol & Other Drugs:
- Child Care & Other Services:
- Continuing Education
- Health Coverage:
- Legal Aid:
- Shelters & Housing: