April 2, 2008
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A project to encourage pregnant women who use alcohol and other drugs to seek prenatal care has begun, thanks to a $47,000 grant by the March of Dimes to Contra Costa Health Services' Family, Maternal and Child Health Programs (FMCH).
The provider training and community awareness project is called the Bridges to Prenatal Care for Substance-Using Women Project, or B2C. It is anticipated to reach approximately 200 pregnant women and 300 providers of prenatal and labor and delivery services.
"We conducted interviews and focus groups with substance-using women to help us plan a community awareness campaign encouraging them to seek prenatal care," said Cheri Pies, Director of FMCH Programs. "We learned that, although most women took steps to seek prenatal care, many delayed or skipped appointments if they had used drugs or were trying to stop using drugs.
"While some women had difficulties obtaining Medi-Cal or transportation, the most common reason for avoiding prenatal care was fear of being reported to Children and Family Services (CFS) and fear of having their children removed," she added.
With this information, Sarah Roberts, a doctoral student working with FMCH, worked with other staff members and members of the Contra Costa Perinatal Substance Abuse Partnership to develop the new project.
"We realized that in order to encourage pregnant women using alcohol and/or other drugs to seek prenatal care, we had to make sure the providers knew about the women's fears, about their own responsibilities as mandated reporters, and about how to communicate sensitively with this group of women," said Roberts.
The result, Roberts said, is a two-pronged strategy of educating providers and conducting a community awareness campaign with clear, encouraging messages about what pregnant women who use alcohol and/or other drugs can expect when they seek prenatal care.
"The Bridges to Prenatal Care for Substance-Using Women Project will work with other county agencies and community partners to reach women who use alcohol and other drugs and the providers that serve them," said Pies. "Our goal is to engage pregnant women who use alcohol and other drugs in prenatal care."
FMCH, in partnership with community members, county programs and community organizations, provides support, resources and services to eliminate health inequities and improve the quality of life for all children, youth, and families.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org
"We are grateful to those volunteers who support the March of Dimes by participation in events like March for Babies and who donate in other ways. That participation and those donations make this grant possible," said Pies.
For more information about FMCH Programs' Bridges to Prenatal Care for Substance-Using Women Project, email Sarah Roberts at email@example.com or call 925-313-6254.
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