Doulas offer a critical opportunity to address disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity within Black, indigenous, and Latino populations. As many states seek to improve pregnancy and childbirth outcomes among people of color, strategies to expand the maternity care workforce and implement an accessible doula network are increasingly a priority. New Jersey, for example, began providing Medicaid coverage of doula services in January 2021 with a focus on supporting and expanding the doula workforce. California is seeking to implement coverage for doulas as part of a broad set of activities to improve maternity care implemented under the SB-65 California Momnibus Act and recent state budget provisions.
This webinar, made possible by the California Health Care Foundation, explored challenges and opportunities to expanding the maternity care workforce and highlight California and New Jersey’s experiences in implementing the doula benefit. National and state experts shared key considerations for developing a doula workforce. New Jersey and California’s experiences in supporting doulas can help inform state Medicaid agencies that are seeking to add doulas to their provider networks.
I. Welcome and Introduction
Speakers: Priti Khanal, Center for Health Care Strategies and Amelia Cobb, California Health Care Foundation
Priti Khanal and Amelia Cobb welcomed participants, provided the context for the need to focus on maternity care workforce expansion, and outlined opportunities and challenges in expanding the doula workforce.
II. The Maternity Workforce Landscape
Speakers: Amy Chen, Senior Staff Attorney, National Health Law Program and Linda Jones, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Co-Founder, Black Women Birthing Justice, and Director of Community Collaboration, Mothers for Mothers Postpartum Justice
Amy Chen and Linda Jones provided an overview of the landscape of maternity care workforce expansion across the country, with a focus on the doula workforce in California. They identified opportunities for stakeholders to engage in maternity care and doula workforce development initiatives.
III. Spotlight: New Jersey’s Lessons on Expanding the Doula Workforce
Speaker: Shin-Yi Lin, Program Manager, New Jersey Department of Human Services
Shin-Yi Lin shared efforts underway in New Jersey to expand the doula workforce since the state’s Medicaid agency began providing doula coverage and services in January 2021. She also described New Jersey’s efforts to support the current doula workforce.